Sweet Country was named Best Film at last night’s AACTA Award Ceremony, with the period Western also taking home Best Direction for Warwick Thornton and Best Lead Actor for Hamilton Morris.
Produced by Bunya Productions, Sweet Country beat out Boy Erased, Cargo, Ladies in Black and Breath. Based on real events, the 1929-set film follows an Aboriginal stockman (Morris) who a kills white station owner in self-defence and goes on the run. It was Morris’ first film role – he previously had only a small part in ABC series 8MMM Aboriginal Radio.
Accepting the award for best film, producer David Jowsey said: “Sweet Country is a Trojan horse. We drive through your gate, and there in our belly is a story about our history, a story about the birth of our nation. Sweet Country is really about our identity.”
Last night’s accolades join the three awards Sweet Country already picked up at the AACTAs Industry Luncheon on Monday, where it won Best Screenplay (David Tranter and Steven McGregor), Best Cinematography (Thornton) and Best Editing (Nick Meyers). They are among a swag of prizes the film has already won, including the Special Jury Prize at the Venice Film Festival, where it had its world premiere, and the Platform Prize at the Toronto International Film Festival.
- Read IF’s interview with Warwick Thornton, David Jowsey and Greer Simpkin about the making of ‘Sweet Country’
Over 20 awards were given away at last night’s AACTA Awards, with a spotlight placed on Indigenous and LGBTIQ stories.
It was Bunya Productions’ night, with the company also walking away with Best Drama Series in Indigenous crime drama Mystery Road, and the show’s stars Wayne Blair and Deborah Mailman also both took home supporting actor/actress gongs.
— Blackfella Films (@blackfellafilms) December 5, 2018
In film, other major winners included Angourie Rice, who won Best Lead Actress for Ladies In Black; Simon Baker who won Best Supporting Actor for Breath and Nicole Kidman who won Best Supporting Actress for Boy Erased – her second consecutive win in the category following Lion. Joel Edgerton took home Best Adapted Screenplay for Boy Erased, noting in his video acceptance speech that he hopes the film will help to end gay conversion therapy.
Werner Productions’ Riot, about Australia’s Gay Rights Movement in the 197os, took home Best Telefeature or Mini Series, and its stars Kate Box and Damon Herriman Best Actress and Best Actor in a Television Drama.
Hannah Gadsby won Best Performance in Television Comedy for her stand-up Netflix special, Nanette.
Winner of Best Documentary Feature was Gurrumul, a portrait of the life of the late blind Indigenous musician, Geoffrey Gurrumul Yunupingu, directed by Paul Damien Williams and produced by Shannon Swan.
— NonIndigenousMichael (@michaelhohnen) December 5, 2018
The recipient of the Byron Kennedy Award, which celebrates outstanding creative enterprise within the screen industry, was Ian Darling, filmmaker and co-founder of Shark Island Institute, Good Pitch Australia and the Documentary Australia Foundation, with whom he shares the accolade.
“All of Ian’s endeavours are about social impact,” said Dr. George Miller. “His approach is global and synergistic – uniquely effective in forging strong and productive coalitions of storytellers, filmmakers, funders, distributors, and strategic thinkers.”
Bryan Brown was honoured with the Longford Lyell Award – AACTA’s lifetime achievement award – and received messages from Sam Neill, Tom Cruise, Sigourney Weaver, Baker, Thornton and Rose Byrne.
Accepting the award, Brown thanked the people he has worked with over the past 40 years around the world. “I love making Australian movies, and I love playing Australian blokes. I hope I can do some more.”
The full list of winners:
AACTA AWARD FOR BEST FILM
Sweet Country – Greer Simpkin, David Jowsey, David Tranter
AACTA AWARD FOR BEST DIRECTION
Warwick Thornton – Sweet Country
AACTA AWARD FOR BEST LEAD ACTOR
Hamilton Morris – Sweet Country
AACTA AWARD FOR BEST LEAD ACTRESS
Angourie Rice – Ladies in Black
AACTA AWARD FOR BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR
Simon Baker – Breath
AACTA AWARD FOR BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS
Nicole Kidman – Boy Erased
AACTA AWARD FOR BEST ADAPTED SCREENPLAY
Boy Erased – Joel Edgerton
AACTA AWARD FOR BEST TELEVISION DRAMA SERIES
Mystery Road – David Jowsey, Greer Simpkin
AACTA AWARD FOR BEST TELEFEATURE OR MINI SERIES
Riot – Joanna Werner, Louise Smith
AACTA AWARD FOR BEST ENTERTAINMENT PROGRAM
The Weekly with Charlie Pickering – Chris Walker, Kevin Whyte, Charlie Pickering, Jo Long
AACTA AWARD FOR BEST LIFESTYLE PROGRAM
Selling Houses Australia – Geoff Fitzpatrick, Duane Hatherly, Sonia Harding
AACTA AWARD FOR BEST REALITY SERIES
Australian Survivor: Champions Vs Contenders – Amelia Fisk, Georgina Hinds, Adam Fergusson
AACTA AWARD FOR BEST LEAD ACTOR IN A TELEVISION DRAMA
Damon Herriman – Riot
AACTA AWARD FOR BEST LEAD ACTRESS IN A TELEVISION DRAMA
Kate Box – Riot
AACTA AWARD FOR BEST PERFORMANCE IN A TELEVISION COMEDY
Hannah Gadsby – Nanette
AACTA AWARD FOR BEST GUEST OR SUPPORTING ACTOR IN A TELEVISION DRAMA
Wayne Blair – Mystery Road
AACTA AWARD FOR BEST GUEST OR SUPPORTING ACTRESS IN A TELEVISION DRAMA
Deborah Mailman – Mystery Road
AACTA AWARD FOR BEST FEATURE DOCUMENTARY
Gurrumul – Paul Damien Williams (Dir), Shannon Swan
AACTA AWARD FOR BEST ASIAN FILM
Dying to Survive – Wang Yibing, Liu Ruifang
BYRON KENNEDY AWARD
LONGFORD LYELL AWARD
The winners from the Industry Luncheon are here.