Big jump in features vying for AACTA Awards

16 September, 2014 by Don Groves

In a sign of the rising volume of film production, 25 features are eligible for the 4th annual Australian Academy of Cinema and Television Arts (AACTA) Awards in January.

That’s up from the 15 titles that were in contention for last January’s awards.


The contenders include Russell Crowe’s The Water Diviner, Julius Avery’s Son of a Gun, Stephen Lance’s My Mistress, Tony Mahony and Angus Sampson’s The Mule, Geoff Davis’ William Kelly’s War and Jon Hewitt’s Turkey Shoot.

Those titles will be among those unspooling at  the AACTA Awards Screenings program to be held from October 6-23 at Event Cinemas, Bondi Junction, and Melbourne’s Palace Cinema Como and Backlot Studios.

Universal is launching The Water Diviner on Boxing Day.  Son of a Gun is set for October 16 via eOne, IFM/Filmways is releasing William Kelly's War on October 30 and Transmission opens My Mistress on November 6.

The screenings for AFI and AACTA members will also be available online via AACTA TV. The program is included in the judges’ handbook on the AACTA website rom this morning.

Nearly half the entries are from first-time directors and there are three Indigenous features. Eight filmmakers are former award winners/nominees including Rolf de Heer, who won six AFI Awards.

In addition to the six named above the contenders are 52 Tuesdays, Around the Block, The Babadook, Backyard Ashes, Canopy, Charlie’s Country, Fell, Felony, Galore, Healing, I, Frankenstein, The Infinite Man, The Little Death, Predestination, The Railway Man; The Rover, These Final Hours, Tracks and Wolf Creek 2.

The screenings will open in Sydney with Son Of A Gun, a psychological thriller starring Ewan McGregor and Brenton Thwaites. Avery and producer Timothy White will introduce the film.

AFI | AACTA CEO, Damian Trewhella, said one of the most exciting shifts in this year’s AACTA Awards is the level and breadth of competition.

“A number of films have leveraged new avenues beyond traditional theatrical releases, such as festivals, social media and online platforms, to increase audience numbers and engagement. These include The Babadook, which not only took Sundance Film Festival by storm, resulting in greater awareness and distribution potential, but also helped fuel the trend towards crowdfunding following its success as one of Australia’s first mainstream crowdfunding campaigns for a feature, raising $30,000 via Kickstarter,” Trewhella said.

Trewhella noted this is a strong year for women with nine features either having female leads or female-led storylines, including 52 Tuesdays which  was directed by three-time AACTA Award nominee Sophie Hyde.

“That many of the female talent involved with this year’s feature films in competition, both behind and in front of the camera, are AFI and AACTA Award winners and nominees reinforces the importance of the Awards in securing new productions as well as new opportunities for our industry," he said.

The feature film, TV and feature documentary nominees will be announced in early December. Supported by the NSW Government through Destination NSW, the awards will be presented in Sydney in late January.

Films deemed eligible to compete either qualified automatically by having a five capital city cinema release or through jury pre-selection (two-to-four capital city release or alternative distribution pathway).

Features must be released between November 7 2013 and December 31 2014.  AFI members have the opportunity to vote for best short animation and best short fiction film while AACTA members can vote across all award categories.