'Girls Can't Surf'.

Voting for this year’s Australian Academy of Cinema and Television Arts (AACTA) Awards will look a little different, with the organisation to broaden the voting powers of general members and stagger voting rounds by category throughout the year.

As of this year, round one voting will determine nominees, and round two the winners.

For the first time, general members – i.e. members of AACTA from the general public – are invited to have their say in both for the major awards. However, their votes are weighted at 0.5, compared to a professional member vote, which is weighted at 1.

The primary change is in the TV categories; general members have actually been able to vote for both nominees and winners in film, documentary and short-form for some time.

Voting on technical craft awards remains restricted to professional branch members. This in reflection that a level of technical understanding informs voting in craft categories, which requires sufficient industry experience and education.

“We’ve made these changes to simplify our voting process and make voting more accessible and inclusive for our members,” AACTA awards and industry development manager Ivan Vukusic tells IF.

“Our ambition to have a more diverse range of backgrounds, experiences and opinions inform the best of Australian screen content. We also acknowledge becoming a professional member requires a level of industry experience, and we’ve recognised this with a greater weighting to their votes.

“Our general member base is made up of passionate screen aficionados and emerging and diverse creatives that may have yet to gain a foothold in the industry and we feel it’s important to listen to them and include them in the Australian screen culture conversation.”

‘My Name is Gulpilil’.

The other key change for the 2021 awards is that voting rounds per category will be staggered throughout the year.

First up is documentary, with round 1 voting to determine nominees for Best Documentary open now and closing July 19. Voting for the winner will then take place from July 27 to August 2.

The documentary entries are available to watch on AACTA TV.

Voting on short form, the major TV awards, major film awards, and then the technical craft awards will follow.

“Australian productions are booming right now, we have more award content to consider and more award categories than ever before,” Vukusic says.

“We’re also excited about having more members involved. It’s important to the integrity of the process that we allow enough time for our members to consider all the content fairly before they cast their votes.

“To that end, to avoid overlap in voting periods and bottlenecks in viewing, we’ve expanded the viewing and voting period and have provided clear timings for each category.”

As IF has reported, this year’s AACTA Awards will feature a number of new categories in comedy, including Best Stand Up Comedy Special and Best Narrative Comedy Series. The Best Comedy Performer category will be expanded to include eight nominees.

AACTA has also split the Best Short Form Drama or Comedy Award so that there are respective prizes for both comedy and drama.

The academy will also be launching a comedy initiative later in the year, AACTA LMAO, with more detail to be announced soon.

The documentary entries are below. AACTA has published a comprehensive voting guide.

  • Beyond the Wasteland (Beneath The Outback Sun)
  • Birth Time (Eagle Rose Productions, Birth Time Pty Ltd)
  • Blind Ambition (Third Man Films)
  • Girls Can’t Surf (Pursekey Productions, FINCH)
  • I’m Wanita (People Productions)
  • Jez: A Letter for Life (Looking Glass Pictures)
  • John Farrow: Hollywood’s Man in the Shadows (Third Street Steps Productions)
  • Film Kids (Certain Pictures)
  • MuM: Misunderstandings of Miscarriage (Neon Jane)
  • My Name is Gulpilil (Vertigo Productions)
  • Palazzo di Cozzo (Film Camp)
  • Phil Liggett: The Voice of Cycling (Goldynaut Pictures)
  • Playing With Sharks (WildBear Entertainment)
  • Tall Poppy: A Skaters Story (Candid Films)
  • The Bowraville Murders (Mint Pictures, Jumping Dog Productions)
  • The Witch of Kings Cross (Black Jelly Films)
  • Under the Volcano (Rush Films)
  • When the Camera Stopped Rolling (Bower Bird Films, Freckled Duck Films)

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