SELF-CROWNED as 'Australia's Queen of Honky Tonk', Tamworth's Wanita Bahtiyar is the shining star in a new documentary that has been named as a finalist for a coveted Sydney Film Festival award.
I'm Wanita follows the journey of the renegade country music singer, hell-bent on realising her childhood dreams of stardom.
It's one of 12 new documentaries selected to contest the Documentary Australia Foundation award for Best Australian Documentary.
The production follows Wanita on her real life journey to Nashville, Tennessee to record an album and achieve stardom.
Wanita arrived on the Tamworth scene 25 years ago and still resides in the country music capital today.
Her music has taken her to great heights including a tour of Sweden, but has also taken her to record lows as she juggled the demands of motherhood and autism.
Her trip to Nashville resulted in her new album I'M WANITA which she describes as "an honest collection of self-penned songs", produced by American country music legend Billy Yates.
Directed by Sydney-based film producer Matt Walker, I'm Wanita originated when Walker was approached to make a promotional video about a country singer in 2013.
He began filming Wanita in her home in Tamworth, and instantly he was drawn to her "wonderfully chaotic and unpredictable" world.
"There was a spark of fascination for me from the start in Wanita's story that endured through the long shoot and edit," he said.
"I read somewhere during the edit that you shouldn't make a film about something you love, or something you hate but rather something you're not sure about. That was the case with I'm Wanita.
"I set out to follow events without prejudice, not second guess what the story was about, where it was going or how it might look.
"I embraced the chaos and Wanita consciously sabotaged any other approach ... I learned about country music and gained Wanita's trust."
The film will be screened during the Sydney Film Festival, and the winning film will be presented with a $10,000 cash prize at the festival's closing night on Sunday November, 14.
I'm Wanita was released in cinemas in Western and South Australia this month and should hit local cinemas later in the year.
It will also be featured at numerous international film festivals including the New Orleans Film Society Film Festival in the United States, the Rain Dance Film Festival in London, and the Calgary International Film Festival in Canada.
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