AACTA’s Raymond Longford Award almost certainly will be renamed the Longford Lyell Award in recognition of Lottie Lyell, the Australian film pioneer’s partner in life and filmmaking.
Producer Tony Buckley has been lobbying for the change for two years, a campaign that has been widely supported. Now AACTA is putting the proposal to its members, seeking feedback by October 10.
“We think it’s a really good suggestion,” AFI | AACTA CEO Damian Trewhella told IF today. “Informally we have had a lot of support and no one has objected. Unless there are strong alternative views there is a strong chance we will adopt the new name.”
First presented in 1968, the award is the highest accolade the Australian Academy can bestow upon an individual who has made a truly outstanding contribution to the enrichment of Australia's screen environment and culture.
Previous recipients include Peter Weir, Geoffrey Rush, Fred Schepisi, Ken G. Hall, Tim Burstall, Jan Chapman, Jack Thompson and David Stratton. Since the launch of the Australian Academy of Cinema and Television Arts in 2011, the award has gone to Don McAlpine, Al Clark and Jacki Weaver.
In her acceptance speech Weaver argued the case to honour Lyell, who was Longford’s co-producer, co-writer or sole writer, film editor, production designer, and, mostly uncredited, his co-director. Weaver described the couple as “collaborators in heart and in art."
Lyell appeared in 25 of Longford’s films, 18 of them in starring roles. Her premature death from tuberculosis in 1925, aged 35, was something from which Longford never recovered. The Sentimental Bloke (1919) ranks as their best known and most enduring joint production.
Buckley told IF he pressed for the change to represent both genders and to recognise Lyell’s achievements.
AACTA has called for recommendations for the Longford Award and the Byron Kennedy Award, which will be presented at the 4th AACTA Awards in Sydney in late January.
Named after George Miller's late producer partner, the Byron Kennedy Award celebrates outstanding creative enterprise within the film and TV industries and is given to an individual or organisation whose work embodies innovation and the relentless pursuit of excellence.
Presented by Kennedy Miller Mitchell in association with AACTA, it carries a cash prize of $10,000. The recipient is selected by a jury. The honour roll includes Sarah Watt, Roger Savage, Dion Beebe, Jill Bilcock, Rolf de Heer, John Polson, Animal Logic, Ivan Sen and, most recently, the Australian Cinematographers Society under the stewardship of Ron Johanson for its enduring and pivotal role in the pursuit of excellence throughout Australian cinema.
Recommendations should be emailed to Awards manager Chloe Boulton by 5pm on Friday October 10.