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AAACTA today announced acclaimed filmmaking collaborators Martin Butler and Bentley Dean as this year’s recipients of the Byron Kennedy Award.
The Byron Kennedy Award will be presented to the two-man film crew at the 7th AACTA Awards presented by Foxtel on Wednesday 6 December at The Star Event Centre in Sydney.
First awarded in 1984, the Byron Kennedy Award celebrates outstanding creative enterprise within the screen industry and is given to an individual or organisation whose work embodies the qualities of innovation, vision and the relentless pursuit of excellence. The Award, which honours Dr George Miller’s original filmmaking partner and Mad Max co-creator Byron Kennedy, includes a cash prize of $10,000 and is a discretionary Award determined by an appointed jury.
Martin and Bentley’s ten-year partnership has focused on genuine collaboration with Indigenous communities to produce some of the most emotionally compelling performances ever seen on screen. Their first collaboration, Contact (2010), a documentary about the Martu people’s first contact with modern Australia, stands as the most revealing and complete account of the ‘first contact’ experience. Contact won numerous accolades, including a Walkley Award and the AFI Award for Best Feature Length Documentary.
Their landmark Walkley Award-winning First Footprints (2013) series, charted 60,000 years of Australia’s history, in close collaboration with Indigenous communities across the continent.
Last year the duo collaborated to create the current AACTA-nominated documentary A Sense of Self (2017) – an intimate portrayal of Martin’s partner, journalist Liz Jackson’s struggle with Parkinson’s disease.
Their unique, improvisational process resulted in the triumphant success of the AACTA Award-winning Tanna (2015),co-written with and performed by the people of Yakel on a volcanic island in Vanuatu. The film received critical acclaim worldwide, culminating in an Oscar® nomination for Best Foreign Language Film – the only Australian film in the history of the Oscars® to be nominated in the category.
“Martin and Bentley are exemplary recipients of the Byron Kennedy Award,” said Dr George Miller. “Their integrity shines through all their endeavours. Because of this, they are held in the highest regard by their collaborators and audiences all over the world.”
Their work has received two AFI | AACTA Awards and a further six nominations, including Best Direction in a Documentary for A Sense of Self at the 7th AACTA Awards presented by Foxtel. The pair are currently working on what they can only reveal at this stage as “Australia’s greatest untold story.”
“Receiving the Byron Kennedy Award is such an honour,” said Bentley and Martin. “Our motivation has always been bringing important, but seemingly impossible stories to life in utterly compelling ways. We are humbled and fired up to join a league of Award recipients who get their kicks from ‘the relentless pursuit of excellence’.”