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The Plague of Youth Binge Drinking

The Plague of Youth Binge Drinking

With the rise in underage drinking and related road fatalities, it is increasingly important to educate school students about the consequences of binge drinking. This year's ATOM Awards finalists have taken an emotionally driven approach to warn youths of the dangers of underage drinking.

A recently released report by the Turning Point Alcohol and Drug Centre and Ambulance Victoria -Trends in alcohol and drug related ambulance attendances in Melbourne 2009-10' has highlighted the increasing link between excessive alcohol consumption and hospitalisation.

From 2009-2010 Ambulance Officers attended to more than 6,200 incidents where patients were acutely alcohol-intoxicated and in almost 70 % of those cases patient were required to be taken to hospital by ambulance.

The 2011 ATOM Awards is presented by ATOM (Australian Teachers of Media) and recognise excellence in media, with a strong focus on education.

'There were several different themes arising from this year's ATOM Awards entrants, but one theme that has made an emotional impact is the increasing problem of youth drinking. The message is simple yet so very important and it also demonstrates how one night of fun can change lives forever,' commented Simon Wilmot, ATOM Awards Executive Officer.

'Media in all its various manifestations is the most significant cultural form with which young Australians are engaged. It is a locus of young people's learning and communicating about the world in which they live. The ATOM Awards provides special access to processes that engage with and circulate ideas. So, it's interesting to see a number of this year's young filmmakers tackling an issue that is so relevant and which so often impacts today's society,"

High School students Amelia Ashton and Lana Spehar are finalists in the Best Senior Secondary Fiction Category for their production -Almost 100'. This film is based on true events and is shown to us through the eyes of two teenagers as they reflect on a neighbourhood tragedy.

-Almost 100' follows the story of five teenagers out for a typical night of fun which ends in a fatal car accident. The name of the film seems dubious at first until we are informed that -last year 410 road fatalities in Australia involved people under the age of 25. Almost 100 of those were teenagers.'

-Todd's Story', which was created by Belinda Fitzpatrick, is a finalist in the Best Secondary Educational Video Resource. The documentary style resource is based on the true story of Todd Hansen who spent a night out partying and drinking with friends then stole a car for a joyride which ended in disaster.

Todd crashed into tree and was given a 1% chance of survival. After one month in a coma and six month learning how to walk, Todd barely comprehends that he will never lead a normal life, but knows that he will continue paying for the choices he made that night for the rest of his life.

-Todd's Story' provides insight into the events of that night from Todd's perspective and that of his family and friends, as well as the emergency workers who are faced with traumatic road accidents, like Todd's, every day.

Another confronting production is 2011 ATOM Awards Secondary Education Resource finalist -The Gathering'. This fictional film, created by Janet Armarego addresses the issues of peer group pressure, underage drinking, drug use and unwanted sex when a weekend without parental supervision gets completely out of hand.

What begins as a -girl's night in' turns into an out of control gathering. Excessive drinking and drug taking, gatecrashers and emotions running wild lead to disastrous consequences for many of the partygoers. The Gathering is designed to educate secondary students about the loss of control - both mentally and physically – they risk when drinking and taking drugs and highlights the ways in which the consequences of their actions can be extremely severe.

Edie Brimblecombe, Holly Hayes and Thandi Paterson are finalists in the Best Senior Secondary Experimental category for their production -The Tale of a Violent Youth'. This film shows a young man battling his own demons as he is tempted by a young femme fatale symbolising the temptations of modern society. Filmed in a dark and impressionistic style this production addresses youth issues, such as drugs and alcohol, in a metaphorical form.

To see some of the 2011 ATOM Awards finalist productions on the big screen, ATOM is holding a number of free public screenings in Melbourne, Sydney, Queensland, Tasmania, Perth and Nationally on the Aurora Community Channel. For details visit

The ATOM Awards were established in 1982 by the Australian Teachers of Media (ATOM) - an independent, non-profit association promoting media education and screen literacy in primary, secondary and tertiary education and the broader community.

The ATOM Awards annually recognise excellence in over thirty categories of Film, Television, Animation and Multimedia and celebrate the very best of Australian and New Zealand production.

The 2011 ATOM Awards were open to the education and industry sectors, students, production companies, independent filmmakers, educational bodies and educational producers in both countries.

Using the 2011 ATOM Awards, ATOM publications and ATOM Professional Development Victoria, ATOM is actively engaged in the promotion of Australian product into the education and industry market. As such, the ATOM Awards are unique in their incorporation of the educational market with the broader industry.

The combination of student and professional awards not only allows the 2011 ATOM Awards to provide all-important early career exposure and experience for emerging professionals, but also provides promotional opportunities for winners and finalists.

After pursuing an academic career in arts and education, Nadia Tass began acting and later directing classical and contemporary theatre in Melbourne. She directed her first feature film, Malcolm, in 1986. Since then Nadia has directed the Australian features Rikky and Pete (1987), The Big Steal (1989), Mr Reliable (1997), Amy (1998).

Amy received 23 international awards including Best Film at the Paris Film Festival (99), Grand Prix de Cinecole at Cannes Film Festival (1999), Grand Prix Cannes Junior (1999) and the Humanitarian Award at Asia Pacific Film Festival.

Nadia's work in the USA includes Pure Luck (1991) for Universal Studios, The Miracle Worker (2000) for Disney, Child Star: The Shirley Temple Story (2001) for Disney, Undercover Christmas (2003) for CBS Network, Samantha: An American Girl Holiday'(2004), and Felicity: An American Girl Adventure (2005) for Warner Bros, and Custody for Jaffe Braunstein Films. She also directed Stark (1993), a miniseries for The BBC/ABC television.

She has continued her relationship with commercial theatre by directing for the Melbourne Theatre Company, and in 2002/2003 she directed the musical theatre production of The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe, which toured Australia and New Zealand.

Nadia's work was rewarded with a nomination for Best Direction of a Musical 2003 at the prestigious Sir Robert Helpmann Awards.

Tass is currently in post-production of a feature film called Matching Jack, which will be distributed by 20th Century Fox in Australia. She also has a number of feature films in development with American studios, in addition to the slate of projects being developed through her production company Cascade Films. Projects in development include The Journey to be shot in Greece, Paris and New York, and Bottle This! - Nadia's first documentary venture.

To find out more about Nadia and her production company, Cascade Films visit


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