First AACTA nominees announced

The countdown to this year’s top Australian screen awards has officially commenced, with the first nominees for the 6th AACTA Awards presented by Presto announced today.

Nominees were announced in three categories – Best Feature Length Documentary, Best Short Animation and Best Short Fiction Film. Nominees for Australia’s finest film and television productions of the past year will be announced later in 2016, with winners across all categories to be announced at two major awards events in Sydney, home of the AACTA Awards, in December.

The nominees for Best Feature Length Documentary are:

  • CHASING ASYLUM Eva Orner
  • IN THE SHADOW OF THE HILL Dan Jackson
  • REMEMBERING THE MAN Nickolas Bird ADG, Eleanor Sharpe ADG
  • SNOW MONKEY Lizzette Atkins, George Gittoes

In a strong year for Australian documentaries, this year’s nominees for Best Feature Length Documentary see emerging filmmakers vying for an AACTA Award alongside established documentary-making talent.

Oscar winner Eva Orner (TAXI TO THE DARK SIDE) today received her first AACTA Award nomination for CHASING ASYLUM – an exposé into Australia’s offshore detention centres and policies. CHASING ASYLUM opened the Human Rights Arts & Film Festival in Melbourne earlier this year, and screened in Official Selection at Hot Docs 2016.

IN THE SHADOW OF THE HILL sees a debut into filmmaking for Dan Jackson, whose work as producer, director, editor and cinematographer captures a firsthand perspective of living inside Rio de Janeiro’s largest slum, as residents fight for justice for a local man they believe was murdered by police. It too screened in Official Selection at Hoc Docs, and at a number of other festivals, including Sydney Film Festival and the American Film Institute’s AFI Docs.

Hot off the back of HOLDING THE MAN, which received six AACTA Awards nominations last year, comes REMEMBERING THE MAN, capturing the enduring love story of Timothy Conigrave and John Caleo. This marks the fourth screen production collaboration between Nickolas Bird and Eleanor Sharpe, and a first AACTA Awards nomination for both. REMEMBERING THE MAN has received a number of national and international festival accolades to date, including Audience Awards at Adelaide Film Festival 2015 and the Melbourne Queer Film Festival 2016, where it also received the Jury Award for Best Documentary.

With a career spanning almost two decades as a producer, today marks Lizzette Atkin’sthird AFI or AACTA Awards nomination. Atkins is nominated for SNOW MONKEYalongside director George Gittoes, marking Gittoes’ first AACTA Awards nomination. SNOW MONKEY provides a portrait of daily life in Jalalabad, where Gitteos draws on his art activist background to recruit gangs of war-damaged children to shoot local Pashto-style films. SNOW MONKEY arrives at the AACTA Awards following Official Selection at last year’s Melbourne International Film Festival and the International Documentary Film Festival Amsterdam.

The nominees for Best Short Animation are:

  • THE ALBATROSS Joel Best, Alex Jeremy, Alex Karonis
  • THE CROSSING Marieka Walsh, Donna Chang
  • FEMME ENFANT Bonnie Forsyth, Grace Lim
  • OSCAR WILDE’S ‘THE NIGHTINGALE AND THE ROSE’ Angie Fielder, Brendan Fletcher, Del Kathryn Barton

Competition within the Best Short Animation category sees recent University graduates competing alongside past AACTA Award nominees and winners.

Two of the short animation films nominated – THE ALBATROSS and FEMME ENFANT – were made by 2015 University of Technology Sydney animation honours graduates.

THE ALBATROSS marks a directorial debut by Joel BestAlex Jeremy and Alex Karonis. It captures a struggling writer’s solitary fishing trip, which is interrupted by a strange creature from the bottom of a whisky bottle. The short animation continues on an impressive festival run; following Official Selection in Animafest, Zagreb, last year, THE ALBATROSS was a finalist in this year’s Dendy Awards for Australian Short Films at the Sydney Film Festival, and received Official Selection at this year’s Melbourne International Animation Festival.

Fellow UTS graduates Bonnie Forsyth and Grace Lim tell the story of a barren artist, Frida, inspired by the story of Frida Kahlo and the female surrealists of the early 20th Century in FEMME ENFANT, again marking impressive debuts by emerging filmmakers.

THE CROSSING sees a nomination for writer-director-animator Marieka Walsh, who won the AACTA Award for Best Short Animation in 2013 for THE HUNTER. A stop-motion animation created out of salt and sand, THE CROSSING tells the story of a sea captain who risks the lives of his men when he decides to change course, taking his ship through a violent storm with haunting consequences. THE CROSSING screened at Annecy Animation Festival 2016 (France) and was recently awarded the Yoram Gross Animation Award at the Sydney Film Festival. Walsh also holds two AACTA Award nominations for THE TURNING, for which THE CROSSING producer, Donna Chang, was also nominated.

Rounding out the Best Short Animation nominees is OSCAR WILDE’S ‘THE NIGHTINGALE AND THE ROSE’, which sees two-time Archibald Prize winner and debut filmmaker, Del Kathryn Barton, nominated alongside past AACTA Award nominees Brendan Fletcher (MAD BASTARDS and KULLI FOOT) and Angie Fielder (WISH YOU WERE HERE). Based on the classic fairytale by Oscar Wilde, this short animation is voiced by some of Australia’s leading performers, including Geoffrey RushMia Wasikowska and David Wenham, and comes to the AACTA Awards with a Best Australian Short Film win from last year’s Melbourne International Film Festival (MIFF) and a Crystal Bear nomination from the Berlin International Film Festival.

The nominees for Best Short Fiction Film are:

  • BLUEY Darlene Johnson ADG, Heather Oxenham SPA
  • DREAM BABY Lucy Gaffy, Kiki Dillon
  • HOMEBODIES Yianni Warnock, Charles Williams
  • NATHAN LOVES RICKY MARTIN Steven Arriagada, Llewellyn Michael Bates, Bryan Chau

This year sees first-time AFI or AACTA Award nominations for all but one of the filmmakers nominated for Best Short Fiction Film, with DREAM BABY writer-director Lucy Gaffy having previously received a nomination for THE LOVE SONG OF ISKRA PRUFROCK.

BLUEY, starring Tasia Zalar (THE STRAITSWENTWORH PRISON), is a moving portrait of a young woman trapped in a cycle of violence, but whose meeting with a mentor through a young offenders’ rehabilitation program could change everything. Directed by Darlene JohnsonBLUEY has had an impressive national and international festival run, counting among its wins the Event Cinemas Australian Short Screenplay Award at the 2015 Sydney Film Festival, and an award for Best Australian Short Film at the Human Rights Arts & Film Festival 2016.

DREAM BABY captures the story of Elvis, a young girl trapped in a remote caravan park who hatches a plan to sell soft drink to fund her way into a posh boarding school in the city – until her Mum finds out. DREAM BABY, by writer-director Lucy Gaffy, will screen at this year’s MIFF.

HOMEBODIES, which sees a woman engage with a perverted stranger online, and a man take a bath wrapped in Christmas lights, received a nomination at this year’s SXSW Film Festival, marking a second consecutive nomination at the Festival for writer-director-producer, Yianni WarnockHOMEBODIES premiered at the Clermont-Ferrand International Short Film Festival, and arrives following an international festivals circuit run which included TIFF.

A finalist for the Dendy Awards for Australian Short Films at the Sydney Film Festival last month, NATHAN LOVES RICKY MARTIN sees a first time AACTA Award nomination for producer-director Steven Arriagada and producers Llewellyn Michael Bates and Bryan Chau. This short fiction film tells the story of a ruse by Pauline – a full-time mother and carer for her mentally and developmentally disabled adult son, Nathan – to form a meaningful connection with the man next door.

Nominees in all categories announced today will screen during the 6th AACTA Awards presented by Presto Official Screenings Program. The Program screens throughout August and September at Event Cinemas Bondi Junction in Sydney and Cinema Nova in Melbourne, and online via AACTA TV. Also screening will be the majority of the Feature Films In Competition, which will be announced in August. The Screenings Program is exclusive to and complimentary for AFI members (open to all) and AACTA members (open to industry).

All remaining Documentary nominees and all Feature Film and Television nominees will be announced later in 2016. Winners will be announced across two major events in Sydney. The 6th AACTA Awards presented by Presto | Industry Luncheon presented by Blue Post will be held on Monday 5 December at The Star Event Centre in Sydney. The 6th AACTA Awards Ceremony & Official After Party presented by Presto will be held at The Star Event Centre in Sydney on Wednesday 7 December and televised on Channel Seven, with a special encore screening on Foxtel.

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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