Australian Academy Launches Festival of Australian Film

The Australian Academy of Cinema and Television Arts (AACTA) today announced the nominees for Best Feature Length Documentary as well as the feature films in competition for this year’s AACTA Awards – Australia’s highest screen accolade.

Reinforcing a strong year for Australian documentary and following changes to the nominations process to introduce a Documentary Branch, AACTA has announced five nominees for Best Feature Length Documentary: CASTING JONBENÉT, DAVID STRATTON: A CINEMATIC LIFE, DEEP WATER: THE REAL STORY, WHITELEY and ZACH’S CEREMONY.

The nominees represent a fascinating collection of stories, including an exploration into one of the world’s most infamous child murder mysteries, a national treasure’s deep dive into Australia’s cinematic legacy, a gripping account of Sydney’s gay hate crime epidemic in the 1980s and 1990s, a visual journey into the private life and creative legacy of one of Australia’s most acclaimed artists, and a look at the challenges of becoming a man in both Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australia.

“Through the establishment of our Documentary Branch, we’ve been pleased to open up the nominations process to all of our AACTA members with documentary credits,” said AFI | AACTA CEO Damian Trewhella. “By engaging with the larger documentary community, we’ve seen overwhelming engagement and an increase in votes, which showed five clear nominees from our thriving documentary industry.”

In addition, a record breaking 35 feature films will compete for nominations at this year’s AACTA Awards.

The full list of feature films in competition are: 2:22, A FEW LESS MEN, ALI’S WEDDING, AUSTRALIA DAY, BAD BLOOD, BAD GIRL, BERLIN SYNDROME, BETTER WATCH OUT, BLUE WORLD ORDER, THE BUTTERFLY TREE, THE COLOUR OF DARKNESS, DANCE ACADEMY: THE MOVIE, THE DEATH AND LIFE OF OTTO BLOOM, DON’T TELL, DRAMA, ELLIPSIS, EMO: THE MUSICAL, EVENT ZERO, HOUNDS OF LOVE, JASPER JONES, JUNGLE, KILLING GROUND, THE LEGEND OF BEN HALL, THE LEGO® BATMAN MOVIE, LION, ONE LESS GOD, THE OSIRIS CHILD: SCIENCE FICTION VOLUME ONE, RED DOG: TRUE BLUE, RIP TIDE, SKIN DEEP, THE SPACE BETWEEN, THAT’S NOT ME, THREE SUMMERS, WHAT IF IT WORKS? and ZELOS.

This year, AACTA introduced a new feature film eligibility policy to pave the way to a more inclusive approach. The Academy is pleased to report that the policy change saw an increase in the number of films and filmmakers competing, a 74% increase in the number of female filmmakers and a marked increase in the number of emerging filmmakers competing alongside industry luminaries.

AFI Award-winning actor David Wenham competes with his feature film directorial debut ELLIPSIS, alongside exciting new talent including Ben Young with HOUNDS OF LOVE and Garth Davis, whose debut feature film LION received six Oscar® nominations. Past AFI and AACTA Award-winning and nominated directors competing include: Cate Shortland (BERLIN SYNDROME), Jeffrey Walker (ALI’S WEDDING, DANCE ACADEMY: THE MOVIE), Kriv Stenders (RED DOG: TRUE BLUE, AUSTRALIA DAY) and Rachel Perkins (JASPER JONES).

This year’s mix of feature films in competition also sees an exciting showcase of Australia’s young actors, including Levi Miller, Aaron McGrath, Angourie Rice, Olivia DeJonge, Ed Oxenbould, Xenia Goodwin, and Indian actor Sunny Pawar, who won the hearts of audiences worldwide as the young Saroo in LION.

These young actors compete alongside top Australian and international talent, including: Nicole Kidman, Dev Patel, Daniel Radcliffe, Hugo Weaving, Toni Collette, Magda Szubanski, Michael Caton, Emma Booth, Stephen Curry, Aaron Pedersen, Teresa Palmer and Melissa George.

AACTA also today launched the Festival of Australian Film – For Your Consideration (formerly the Official Screenings Program), which will see members experience the best of Australian cinema this year alongside peers and cinema lovers. The full program will screen again in Sydney and Melbourne, with the full program to be extended to Brisbane for the first time in nine years.

The Festival will also return to Perth, screening the nominees for Best Feature Length Documentary, Best Short Fiction Film and Best Short Animation.

AACTA’s Festival of Australian Film – For Your Consideration will open in Sydney and Melbourne in late August with special preview screenings of ALI’S WEDDING, the winner of Sydney Film Festival’s Foxtel Movies Audience Award for Best Feature.

The full program will launch in Brisbane with a special preview screening of THE BUTTERFLY TREE. Filmed in Tamborine Mountain in Queensland, the film is Queensland-based writer-director Priscilla Cameron’s feature film directorial debut and stars Ewen Leslie and Melissa George.

“We’re thrilled to return to the growing screen community in Queensland, bringing our full Festival of Australian Film program to our Brisbane members,” said AFI | AACTA CEO Damian Trewhella. “It’s also great to see a strong representation of Queensland film in the feature films in competition this year, including DON’T TELL, AUSTRALIA DAY, JUNGLE and THE BUTTERFLY TREE.”

Screen Queensland CEO Tracey Vieira said support for AACTA’s Festival of Australian Film in Queensland was through Screen Queensland’s new multi-year Screen Culture funding for major events.

“It’s great to welcome these screenings back to Brisbane by providing funding over two years,” Ms Vieira said. “The Festival of Australian Film is just one of 23 festivals and events Screen Queensland is supporting in 2017 and 2018, ensuring Queenslanders across the state have access to a range of innovative content from traditional cinema to new platforms.”

The AACTA Awards are proudly supported by the New South Wales Government through its tourism and major events agency, Destination NSW.

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