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Ruth wins 2010 AFI/AACTA Award for Best Documentary

Ruth’s credits include director, series director, producer, executive producer, and writer.  She is especially known for her fearless and empathetic character portrayals along with her willingness to venture into new worlds.  


Attracted to the strange and wonderful aspects of real life story telling, she continues to find beauty in the unexpected.


Ruth has just completed The Scribe – an award winning feature documentary on political speech writer Graham Freudenberg – also known as the ghost of Whitlam.  


Other credits include the ground breaking 6 part series The Dreamhouse (Series Director &Writer) which screened to wide acclaim on the ABC in 2014; the 5 part television series Heat In the Kitchen (Series Director & DOP) which launched the television careers of chefs Luke Nguyen and Matt Moran and gourmet farmer and former food critic Matthew Evans.  She also directed he TV series – About Men (3 x 1 hour SBS) & High Steaks (3 x 30 mins SBS).


Other fims include the documentaries: Painted Lady (Producer/Director) and The Tightrope Dancer (Producer/Director) which explore the world of the artist and adventurer Vali Myers.  


Becoming Julia – fast cars and a sex change  (Producer/Director) follows a macho Aussie farmer through his sex change into Julia. Becoming Julia premiered to a standing ovation at the Sydney International Film Festival.


In 2010 Ruth won the AFI/AACTA Award for Best Documentary for You Only Live Twice – the incredibly true story of the Hughes Family (Producer).


Her films have screened all over the world, including the prestigious IDFA (Amsterdam), as well as Montreal, Los Angeles, Sydney and Melbourne film festivals. 


Ruth has worked as an industry consultant to Screen Australia, and as an Executive Producer in Arts for the ABC.  She is the former Head of Documentary at Australia’s national film school AFTRS and has served as a board member of The Antenna Documentary Film Festival (Chair) and the Australian Directors Guild.



The Scribe

- producer, director & writer

Winner, Best Australian Feature Documentary, Antenna Documentary Film Festival, 2018


The Dream House

- series director and writer.

Nomination - Best Documentary, Un Media Awards, 2014

You Only Live Twice – The Incredibly True Story of the Hughes Family

- producer

Winner - AFI/AACTA Awards, Best Documentary, 2010

Landmines – A Love Story

- editor (with Andrea Lang)

Winner - AFI Awards, Best Documentary, 2005

Becoming Julia,

- producer/ director
Finalist - Audience Favourite, Sydney International FF, 2003

Helen’s War

- editor (with Steve Weslake)
Winner - Dendy Awards, 2004 &

Winner - Best Direction in a Documentary, AFI Awards, 2004

The Tightrope Dancer

- producer/director
Nomination - AFI Awards, Best Documentary, 1990

Guerrillas In Our Midst

- editor
Winner of several international awards including:

Winner: Best Short - Athens FF, 1992 &

Winner: Best Documentary - Utah Short Film Competition 1992

Australia Daze

- contributing director

Winner: Best Editing - AFI Awards, 1988

Philippines My Philippines 

- editor

Nominated: Best Film - AFI Awards, 1989


Half Life

- sound editor  (Dir. Dennis O’Rourke) 

Winner of several international awards Including:

Winner: Jury Prize -Best Film, Berlin FF, 1988 &

Winner: Berlinale Peace Prize Berlin FF, 1988

Couldn’t Be Fairer

- editor  (Dir. Dennis O’Rourke)

Winner: Best Documentary - ATOM, 1988

Awards & Nominations

The Dreamhouse.jpg

The Dreamhouse


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The Scribe

The Scribe

Feature documentary about political speechwriter Graham Freudenberg and how his love of language changed the country.

70 mins, Cinema Release

- writer, director & producer.

Don’t Stop The Music

Why every child needs music in their education.

3x1, ABC, 2018, Artemis Productions

- Post production director & co-writer


Stop Laughing this is Serious 

- post-production director & writer (EP1)
A history of Australian comedy

3 x 1hr, ABC, 2015, Series Dir.: Stephen Oliver, Exec. Prod: Jennifer Collins, Screentime 2015


The Dreamhouse

- series director & writer
3 irreverent 20 somethings with intellectual disabilities  – flying the nest and living the dream.
6 x 30 mins, ABC TV, Exec. Producer: Celia Tate, Artemis Productions, 2014


You Only Live Twice–the incredibly true story of the Hughes family

- producer
A bohemian cultural history through the eyes of this maverick Australian dynasty. 55 mins, ABC, 2010

About Men

- series director & co-writer
On men from babies to old age. 3 x 1 hrs, SBS, Prod. Co.: Iris Pictures, 2009


High Steaks

- series director
Neil Perry takes on the world. 3 x ½ hrs series, 2006.  Prod. Co.: Essential Viewing.

The Two of Us - Libity & Elizabeth

- director
A warm ab fab tale featuring an aging stripper and her observant daughter. Series based on the popular SMH column. SBS 30 mins. Exec. Prod.: Michael Cordell, 2005

The Two of Us, Suzanne & Moshem

- director
Explores the relationship between a refugee advocate and the man she rescued.  A scathing look at our treatment of refugees. Series based on the popular SMH column. SBS, 30 mins, Exec. Prod.: Michael Cordell, 2005


Heat in The Kitchen 

- series director / co-writer
The hats are off as we get behind the reviewing process and into the kitchens of 3 top Sydney chefs.  This series introduced Luke Nguyen and Matthew Evans (Gourmet Farmer) to Australia. 5 x ½ hour for SBSi , Lifestyle UK & Australia. Prod.: Sonja Armstrong, 2005.


Becoming Julia

- producer / director / writer / camera
Fast cars and a sex change as Paul becomes Julia. 52 mins, SBSi, 2003.


Painted Lady

- producer / director / writer / camera
A sequel to Ruth’s acclaimed documentary The Tightrope Dancer, ABC & SBS, 52 mins

The Tightrope Dancer 

- producer / writer / director
This documentary introduced the unique artist Vali Myers to  Australian audiences. National theatrical release through Ronin Films & ABC, 58 mins 1990. 


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Ruth on location

Vali Myers by Ruth Cullen – The Art of The Big O, Fishel Michael, USA 2014

Directing and the Real World – Screen Director, Issue 01, Spring 2013, Australian Director’s Guild

My Wild Bird of Paradise – Night Flower: The life and the Art of Vali Myers, edited by Gemma Jones and Martin McIntosh, Outre Gallery, Australia 2012

Making the Character Driven Documentary – Lumina: Australian Journal of Screen Arts and Business, Issue 8, AFTRS July 2011

Genre in Documentary  – Lumina : Australian Journal of Screen Arts and Business, Issue 4,  AFTRS 2010

Why A Tampon is Not Just A Tampon –  Opinion Page, The Sydney Morning Herald & The Age, 15/02/2000

Dennis O’Rourke Interviewed by Ruth CullenPOV Magazine, Canada April 2010

Black & White Issues – Web Diary, Sydney Morning Herald, 16/11/2000

Seeing The Light  – The Relations Column, The Sydney Morning Herald 23/8/99

Shadows  – The Relations Column, The Sydney Morning Herald, 22/6/98

Rent Day  –  (fiction) VOICES Quarterly Journal, Autumn, The National Library of Australia, 1991


It Was Simply Divine  -  (fiction) Detour Magazine, March 1990, USA

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