Tributes flow for the director who gave her all
Garry Maddox and Rebecca Richardson
November 6, 2011/SMH
Sad loss ... William McInnes and Sarah Watt last month. Photo: Simon Schluter
THE much-loved Australian writer, director and artist Sarah Watt - the wife of the actor William McInnes - has died of cancer.
Watt, 53, was recognised as a rare talent through a series of heartfelt animated shorts before triumphing with the 2005 film Look Both Ways, which starred McInnes as a photographer dealing with cancer.
It won her the best film, director and original screenplay awards at the Australian Film Institute Awards as well as the Discovery award at the Toronto International Film Festival.
But by the time of the film's release, she was dealing with her own diagnosis of breast cancer, and she chronicled the experience of illness with humour and heart in her 2009 film My Year without Sex
, which starred Sacha Horler and Matt Day.
A death notice in The Age said Watts ''died peacefully at home filled with the love she gave to those who adored her - her family. A life of courage, humour, intelligence, generosity, honesty and grace.''
More than most directors, her films drew on her personal experiences.
''When I go to see films or look at paintings, I want to be moved and that usually comes from something personal in the artist,'' she once said. ''So that's why I raid my own life a bit to make films.''
Even after being diagnosed with secondary bone cancer two years ago, Watt continued her creative work.
Late last month, when she spoke to The Age
from hospital, she said her way of coping with illness was ''to throw every thought or picture into my work. In a way, I've just kept doing what I've always done.''
Watt's friend Bridget Ikin, who produced Look Both Ways
and My Year without Sex, said: ''Every ounce of her being was creative, she couldn't stop.
''She was a truly original, creative person, always quick to see the funny side and full of compassion.
''I loved how she always could open up fresh ways of looking at the imperfections of our families and ourselves.''
This year, Watt was on the jury at the Sydney Film Festival, released the memoir Worse Things Happen at Sea
, which she wrote with McInnes, and opened a photography exhibition, 3012, in Melbourne late last month.
The gallery owner, Mary Long, said Watt was ''a super special woman. It's beautiful that she reminded us all to look at the simple things in life to find happiness.''
Watt said last month she delighted in finding beauty in the most unlikely surrounds, such as a hospital ward. ''I'll often look at things and see weird faces and animals. I used to see them in clouds; now I see them in the drape of a cloth - a ghost or a happy face.''
She is survived by McInnes and her two children Clem, 18, and Stella, 13.