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Entries in Film Awards (4)

Tuesday
Jan012019

LADIES IN BLACK LEAD OZ PACK AS QUEENS OF U.S. DESERT FEST 

Four diverse Australian works will feature at the 30th Palm Springs International Film Festival (PSIFF), which launches January 3 in California’s upmarket desert enclave on the western edge of the Coachella Valley. Key amongst them is veteran filmmaker Bruce Beresford’s local hit Ladies in Black, which has been honoured as the Closing Night film of the 12-day program. Set to screen 223 films from 78 countries, organisers are predicting close to 140,000 attendees for the anniversary celebrations of one of America’s most respected and relaxed festival events.

The story of the strong-willed retail saleswomen at the forefront of social change in Sydney circa 1959, Ladies in Black was a critical and commercial hit domestically, earning AU$12.5million at the Australian/New Zealand box office and scoring four AACTA Awards, including Best Actress for starlet Angourie Rice. Yet to open in other key global markets, the North American premiere at PSIFF is a strong indication of the potential for the film to play with audiences beyond these shores (pictured, above; from left, Celia Massingham, Rice and Rachel Taylor).

Also enjoying a moment in the Californian film festival sun will be Benjamin Gilmour’s Jirga, screening as part of the festival’s Foreign Film Oscar Submission strand. The AACTA-winning drama follows a former Australian soldier’s return to Afghanistan, where he seeks forgiveness from the family of a civilian man he killed while serving in the war. Writer/director Gilmour, star Sam Smith (pictured, right) and a skeleton crew shot the film guerilla-style in some of Afghanistan’s most dangerous regions, the result being a film of rare emotion, tension and beauty; it had its World Premiere in Toronto to critical acclaim. It is Australia’s official Foreign Film Oscar contender, with large sections of the film in Pashto dialect.

Certain to amp up the party atmosphere will be a retrospective screening of Baz Luhrmann’s breakout 1992 blockbuster Strictly Ballroom. The film, which earned a staggering AU$80million global box office during its initial release, has been slotted into a strand called ‘The Palm Springs Canon’, a celebration of the best of the PSIFF's first 30 years. Luhrmann’s crowd-pleaser will play alongside 32 other established classics, including Ang Lee’s Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon (2000), Krzysztof Kieslowski’s The Double Life of Veronique (1991), Giuseppe Tornatore’s Cinema Paradiso (1988), Jean-Pierre Jeunet’s Amelie (2001) and Christopher Nolan’s Memento (2000).

Rounding out the Antipodean contingent is Jeffery Walker’s Riot, the made-for-television account of the gay activists whose fight to decriminalize homosexuality in mid-70s Sydney led to the birth of the now iconic Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras. Starring Damon Herriman (soon to feature as Charles Manson in Quentin Tarantino’s Once Upon a Time in Hollywood), the small-screen movie aired to a national audience via the Australian Broadcasting Corporation in June before earning Herriman (pictured, right; with co-star Xavier Samuels) and co-star Kate Box AACTA Awards last month for their lead performances. It will screen in the PSIFF strand ‘Queer Cinema Today & The Gay!LA’ alongside such festival favourites as Wanuri Kahiu’s lesbian-themed Kenyan film Rafiki and Austrian filmmaker Katharina Mueckstein’s L’Animale, one of the films vying for the festival’s New Voices/New Visions Grand Jury Prize.

The four Australian films will be seen by many of Hollywood’s major players, with studio and agency representatives attending alongside the likes of actors Timothée Chalamet, Glenn Close, Richard E. Grant, Melissa McCarthy and Rami Malek; and, directors Ryan Coogler, Spike Lee, Ali Abbasi, Emilio Estevez and Alfonso Cuarón.

The Palm Springs International Film Festival will launch on January 3 with the Opening Night film, Kenneth Branagh’s All is True, with the festivities concluding January 13 with Ladies in Black; both will screen at Richards Center for the Arts at Palm Springs High School followed by a reception at the Hilton Hotel complex.

Monday
Oct302017

LION IS PRIDE OF LOCAL INDUSTRY WITH 12 AACTA NOMS.

The Australian Academy of Cinema and Television Arts (AACTA) seem poised to correct the imbalance perpetrated by their American brethren by handing the bulk of this years AACTA Award Feature Film trophies to Garth Davis’ Lion. The critical and commercial hit scored a whopping 12 nominations, leading a record-breaking 17 films in the race for this year’s top industry honours.

Starring Dev Patel as the adopted Indian man seeking his birth mother, Lion became the feel-good hit at the 2016-17 international box office yet was shut-out in the La-La Land/Moonlight Oscar sweep, despite earning six nominations. Given its A$25million local box office haul and the 34 awards it has already snared globally (including two International AACTAs), the prospect of the film enjoying it’s own sweep at the twin ceremonies on December 4 and 6 is very real.

Also in contention for the Best Film AACTA are the sleeper hit Ali’s Wedding (8 nominations) and box office non-starters Berlin Syndrome (8 nominations; pictured, right), Hounds of Love (8 nominations) and Jasper Jones (6 nominations).  Other multiple nominees include Don’t Tell (4), The Butterfly Tree (3), The Death and Life of Otto Bloom (2) and The Lego Batman Movie (2). Single nominations in several tech categories went to Australia Day, Dance Academy: The Movie, Jungle, Killing Ground, Red Dog True Blue and Osiris Child: Science Fiction Volume 1; international productions Deepwater Horizon and Doctor Strange were cited for their use of local effects houses.

Launching at this year’s ceremony will be the inaugural Best Asian Film category, a none-too-subtle attempt to wrestle regional relevance away from the annual Asia Pacific Screen Awards (APSA), to be held in Brisbane on November 23. Countries represented in the category include India (Dangal; Pink; Kaasav Turtle); China (I am Not Madame Bovary; Our Time Will Come; Wolf Warrior II, pictured, left); The Philippines (Birdshot); South Korea (Train to Busan); and, Japan (Your Name).

The 7th AACTA Awards will be held at The Star Event Centre in Sydney. The Industry Luncheon takes place on Monday December 4, to be followed by the AACTA Awards Ceremony on the evening of December 6.

The full list of nominees are:          

AACTA AWARD FOR BEST FILM
ALI’S WEDDING Sheila Jayadev, Helen Panckhurst
BERLIN SYNDROME Polly Staniford
HOUNDS OF LOVE Melissa Kelly
JASPER JONES Vincent Sheehan, David Jowsey
LION Emile Sherman, Iain Canning, Angie Fielder

AACTA AWARD FOR BEST DIRECTION
ALI’S WEDDING Jeffrey Walker
BERLIN SYNDROME Cate Shortland
HOUNDS OF LOVE Ben Young
LION Garth Davis

AACTA AWARD FOR BEST LEAD ACTOR
Stephen Curry HOUNDS OF LOVE
Ewen Leslie THE BUTTERFLY TREE
Sunny Pawar LION
Osamah Sami ALI’S WEDDING

AACTA AWARD FOR BEST LEAD ACTRESS
Emma Booth HOUNDS OF LOVE
Teresa Palmer BERLIN SYNDROME
Helana Sawires ALI’S WEDDING
Sara West DON’T TELL

AACTA AWARD FOR BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR
Don Hany ALI’S WEDDING
Dev Patel LION
Jack Thompson DON’T TELL
Hugo Weaving JASPER JONES

AACTA AWARD FOR BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS
Frances Duca ALI’S WEDDING
Nicole Kidman LION
Jacqueline McKenzie DON’T TELL
Susie Porter HOUNDS OF LOVE

AACTA AWARD FOR BEST ASIAN FILM
BIRDSHOT Pamela L. Reyes
DANGAL Aamir Khan, Kiran Rao, Siddarth Roy Kapur
I AM NOT MADAME BOVARY Wang Zhonglei, Zhou Maofei, Hu Xiaofeng
KAASAV (TURTLE) Dr. Mohan Agashe, Sunil Sukthankar, Sumitra Bhave
OUR TIME WILL COME Roger Lee, Stephen Lam, Ann Hui
PINK Shoojit Sircar, Rashmi Sharma, Ronnie Lahiri, Sheel Kumar
TRAIN TO BUSAN Lee Dong ha
WOLF WARRIOR 2 Zhang Miao, Guang Hailong
YOUR NAME Genki Kawamura, Katsuhiro Takei, Kouichurou Itou, Yoshihiro Furusawa

AACTA AWARD FOR BEST FEATURE LENGTH DOCUMENTARY
CASTING JONBENÉT Kitty Green, Scott Macaulay, James Schamus
DAVID STRATTON: A CINEMATIC LIFE Jo-anne McGowan
DEEP WATER: THE REAL STORY Darren Dale
WHITELEY Sue Clothier, James Bogle, Peta Ayres
ZACH’S CEREMONY Sarah Linton, Alec Doomadgee

AACTA AWARD FOR BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY
ALI’S WEDDING Andrew Knight, Osamah Sami
THE BUTTERFLY TREE Priscilla Cameron
THE DEATH AND LIFE OF OTTO BLOOM Cris Jones
HOUNDS OF LOVE Ben Young

AACTA AWARD FOR BEST ADAPTED SCREENPLAY
BERLIN SYNDROME Shaun Grant
DON’T TELL James Greville, Ursula Cleary, Anne Brooksbank
JASPER JONES Shaun Grant, Craig Silvey
LION Luke Davies

AACTA AWARD FOR BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY
HOUNDS OF LOVE Michael McDermott
JUNGLE Stefan Duscio
LION Greig Fraser
RED DOG: TRUE BLUE Geoffrey Hall

AACTA AWARD FOR BEST EDITING
AUSTRALIA DAY Nick Meyers
BERLIN SYNDROME Jack Hutchings
HOUNDS OF LOVE Merlin Eden
LION Alexandre de Franceschi

AACTA AWARD FOR BEST SOUND
JASPER JONES Liam Egan, Trevor Hope, Robert Sullivan, Yulia Akerholt, James Andrews, Les Fiddess
KILLING GROUND Serge Lacroix, Cate Cahill
THE LEGO BATMAN MOVIE Wayne Pashley, Rick Lisle, Fabian Sanjurgo, Michael Semanick, Gregg Landaker
LION Robert Mackenzie, Glenn Newnham, Nakul Kamte, Andrew Ramage, James Ashton, Mario Vaccaro

AACTA AWARD FOR BEST ORIGINAL MUSIC SCORE
ALI’S WEDDING Nigel Westlake
BERLIN SYNDROME Bryony Marks
THE BUTTERFLY TREE Caitlin Yeo
LION Volker Bertelmann, Dustin O’Halloran

AACTA AWARD FOR BEST PRODUCTION DESIGN
BERLIN SYNDROME Melinda Doring
THE DEATH AND LIFE OF OTTO BLOOM Ben Morieson
JASPER JONES Herbert Pinter
LION Chris Kennedy

AACTA AWARD FOR BEST COSTUME DESIGN
BERLIN SYNDROME Maria Pattison
DANCE ACADEMY:THE MOVIE Tess Schofield
JASPER JONES Margot Wilson
LION Cappi Ireland

Thursday
Dec082016

AACTA KUDOFEST BECOMES 'THE GIBBO AND HOGES SHOW'

The band of brothers who fought to get Hacksaw Ridge made were rewarded with 9 AACTA trophies in at a red carpet industry soiree in Sydney last night. Returning again and again to the podium, artisans and craftsmen on Mel Gibson’s bloody ode to faith and heroism all but shut out the rest of the nominees, with only Simon Stone’s dark drama The Daughter feeling any love in other major categories.

In accepting his Best Director award from Mad max director Dr George Miller, a moved Gibson (“I am so choked up, I can’t even talk”) acknowledged the ongoing support afforded filmmakers by the funding bodies Screen Australia and Screen New South Wales. He also paid service to local below-the-liners, stating, “the calibre (of this cast and crew) is as good as or better than anywhere in the world. I’m not the only one who wants to make films here, because Ridley Scott says exactly the same thing about working here.”

By the end of the night, most of those cast and crew had AACTA awards in their grasp, with the film earning Andrew Garfield the Lead Actor gong (he accepted via a pre-recorded link) and Supporting Actor for Hugo Weaving. Andrew Knight and Robert Schenkkan earned Screenplay honours; DOP Simon Duggan’s immersive battlefield camerawork saw him take the Cinematography nod; the kudo list was rounded out by John Gilbert’s editing, Barry Robinson’s production design and the sound design unit.

AACTA’s in the Female Lead and Supporting categories for The Daughter halted a Hacksaw Ridge clean sweep. In her first feature film role, Odessa Young (pictured, right) earned Best Actress while industry favourite Miranda Otto received her first and long-overdue trophy for her supporting turn. Writer/director Simon Stone secured the Adapted Screenplay honour, having reworked Henrik Ibsen’s play The Wild Duck into a contemporary Australian drama.

The only other honourees were the lovably offbeat coming-of-age comedy Girl Asleep, which earned Best Costume Design for Jonathon Oxlade and the Pacific Island romance Tanna, which took home Best Original Music Score for Antony Partos. Chasing Asylum, a harrowing account of the immigrant experience in Australia, won Best Documentary, with the film’s director Eva Orner on hand to collect.

A highlight of the night was the bestowing of the AACTA Longford Lyell Award upon beloved icon Paul Hogan, an honour that has previously acknowledged the global standing of such talents as Cate Blanchett and Geoffrey Rush. Accepting the trophy in typically laconic style, he cheerfully recognised his entire career has largely been a been based upon the one-hit wonder Crocodile Dundee and its sequels, but as he pointed out to the roar of the audience, “It was a mighty hit.” Other industry accolades went to Isla Fisher, who joined the likes of Naomi Watts, Margot Robbie and Toni Collette as the recipient of the Trailblazer Award, and visual artist and VR innovator Lynette Wallworth, who earned the Byron Kennedy Award.

Thursday
Mar262015

CHINESE INDUSTRY DOMINATES REGIONAL KUDOCAST

After a New Year period that saw Chinese cinema attendance top US figures for the first time in history, the Chinese film industry can claim to be on quite a roll having last night swept the 2015 Asian Film Awards, taking out ten of the fourteen categories. The lavish ceremony is overseen by an organizing committee comprising officials from the Busan, Hong Kong and Tokyo film festivals and was held in the vast Venetian Casino on the resort island of Macau.

Blind Massage (pictured, above), a Nanjing-set drama that follows the bittersweet lives of blind masseurs, took Best Picture honours ahead of Black Coal Thin Ice (China/Hong Kong), Haider (India), Hill of Freedom (South Korea), Ode to My Father (South Korea) and The Light Shines Only There (Japan). Already an awards season heavyweight boasting honours from the Asia Pacific Screen Awards, Taipei's Golden Horse Film Festival and the Berlin Film Festival, the intimate ensemble piece also snared the Best Cinematography trophy for lensman Zeng Jian.

The film’s director, Le You, was again beaten for Best Director honours by Ann Hui, whose helming of the Xiao Hong biopic, The Golden Era, was favoured at the Golden Horse ceremony in November. Other nominees included Tsukamoto Shinya, (Fires on the Plain, Japan], Berlin honoree Lav Diaz (From What Is Before, The Philippines), Vishal Bhardwaj (Haider) and Hong Sang-soo (Hill of Freedom). The Golden Era’s Wang Zhiwen was named Best Supporting Actor, ahead of Jo Jin-ung (A Hard Day, South Korea), Eric Qin (Blind Massage), Chen Jianbin (Paradise in Service, Taiwan) and Ito Hideaki (Wood Job!, Japan).

Black Coal, Thin Ice took home the Best Actor award, with charismatic star Liao Fan topping a strong category that included Kase Ryo (Hill of Freedom), Lau Ching-wan (Overh3ard, Hong Kong/China), Ethan Ruan (Paradise in Service) and Choi Min-shik (Roaring Currents, South Korea) and Sato Takeru (Rurouni Kenshin: The Legend Ends, Japan). Auteur Diao Yi’nan also earned the Best Screenplay honour for his dark procedural thriller.

Other territories represented on the podium were Japan (Best Supporting Actress Ikewaki Chizuru, pictured right, in The Light Shines Only There); India (composer Mikey McCleary for Margarita, With a Straw); and, South Korea, whose Best Actress winner Bae Du-na for A Girl at My Door led in a packed field that included Gong Li, (Coming Home, China), Vicki Zhao, (Dearest, Hong Kong/China), Kalki Koechlin, (Margarita, With a Straw), Miyazawa Rie (Pale Moon, Japan) and pre-event favourite, Tang Wei (The Golden Era). Jiang Wen’s Gone With the Bullets, a grandly-mounted satire of French colonial excess in 1920s Shanghai, topped the trophy tally with three, all for its below-the-line contributions in the fields of Production Design, Costuming and Visual Effects. Gareth Evans rounded out the tech categories with a Best Editing nod for his Indonesian action epic, The Raid 2: Berandal.