2014 AACTA Awards red carpet
|Awarded for||"To recognise and honour outstanding achievement in the Australian film and television industry."|
|Presented by||Australian Academy of Cinema and Television Arts (AACTA)|
|Network||ABC (1977, 1980–83, 1986–87, 1989–90, 1993, 1995, 1997, 2003–04)|
Seven Network (1978, 2001, 2016–2020)
Nine Network (1976, 2005–12)
Network Ten (1985, 2002, 2013–15, 2021–)
The Australian Academy of Cinema and Television Arts Awards, known as the AACTA Awards, are presented annually by the Australian Academy of Cinema and Television Arts (AACTA). The awards recognize excellence in the film and television industries, both locally and internationally, including the producers, directors, actors, writers, and cinematographers. The AACTA International Awards, inaugurated in 2012, are presented every January in Los Angeles.
The awards, previously called Australian Film Institute Awards or AFI Awards, began in 1958, expanding in 1986 to cover television as well as film. The AACTA Awards were instituted in 2011. This is the most prestigious awards ceremony for the Australian film and television industry. They are generally considered to be the Australian counterpart of the Academy Awards for the U.S. and the BAFTA Awards for the U.K., recognizing and thus encouraging the highest levels of performance from Australians involved in these entertainment industries which serve the public in significant ways.
1958–2010: AFI Awards
The awards were presented annually by the Australian Film Institute (AFI) as the Australian Film Institute Awards (more commonly known as the AFI Awards), "to recognise and honour outstanding achievement in the Australian film and television industry." They were instituted in 1958, "as a way to improve the impoverished state of Australian cinema," and was part of the Melbourne International Film Festival (known then as the Melbourne Film Festival) until 1972. These AFI Awards initially consisted of four categories: Documentary, Educational, Advertising, and Open, with a special category for Experimental Film, and in 1959 the awards were further expanded to include Public Relations and Teaching.
Between 1958 and 1980, submitted films were presented with a gold, silver or bronze prize, and in some circumstances, a Grand Prix award, which was the highest honor a film could receive. Additionally, films were also presented with a gold or silver medallion for technical achievements, and films which did not receive a prize were given a certificate of honorable mention. From the awards inception to 1968, documentary and educational films were the only films submitted for awards due to few feature films produced in Australia, but in 1969, Jack and Jill: A Postscript became the first feature film to receive an award from the AFI, with a silver prize in the "Open" category, and is considered a winner in the Best Film category of the current awards. The Longford award for Lifetime Achievement had been inaugurated in 1968, awarded again in 1970, then from 1976 was awarded every year.
Up until 1970, prizes were handed out in recognition of the film and production, rather than achievements of individual filmmakers and crafts people. However, from 1971 special achievement awards were introduced to recognize actors, directors, screenwriters, musicians, editors, and cinematographers in feature films, and from 1975, an additional cash prize was given per achievement. In 1977 feature film categories became competitive, while non-feature films continued to be awarded the gold, silver, and bronze prizes until 1981, when they also became competitive.
In 1976 the awards were broadcast live on television for the first time on the Nine Network at the Hilton Hotel in Melbourne. A Hollywood-style national televised presentation began in 1977 when the Australian Broadcasting Corporation hosted the presentation in Sydney’s Regent Theatre. In 1986 television categories were introduced, presenting awards for mini-series and telefeatures before expanding to dramas, comedies, and documentaries in the 1990s.
2011–present: AACTA Awards
In June 2011, the AFI announced major changes involving the transition to an "Australian Academy" with the goal of providing greater engagement within the industry. The changes included moving the awards presentations from December to late January close to Australia Day, the official national day of Australia, to allow more projects from the calendar year to be included and to bring the awards in line with the international events such as the Academy Awards, Golden Globes, and BAFTA Awards. AFI patron Dr. George Miller said of the proposed changes: “The 21st century offers immense opportunities and the AFI’s proposed development of an Australian Academy cleverly adapts successful elements of the world’s leading screen organizations to local traditions.”
The name of the new Academy was revealed on August 18, 2011 as the Australian Academy of Cinema and Television Arts (AACTA), with the awards renamed to the AACTA Awards. It was also announced that the location of the awards ceremony would move from Melbourne to the Sydney Opera House in Sydney. Multi-awarded actor Geoffrey Rush, named as AACTA’s Founding President, had this to say:
I am honoured to represent our industry as President of the newly-formed Australian Academy. Over half a century ago the AFI was founded and since that time our film and television industries have developed beyond our wildest imaginings. Through the timely creation of AACTA we have a unique opportunity to galvanise the craft and talent this country endlessly produces.
The first award to be handed out since the Academy's inception was the Longford Lyell Award, which was presented to Don McAlpine for his contribution to cinematography, at the inaugural awards luncheon.
The AACTA International Awards, inaugurated on January 27 2012, are presented every January in Los Angeles. They honor the best achievements in screen excellence from around the world in seven film categories (Best Film, Best Direction in Film, Best Screenplay in Film, Best Lead Actor in Film, Best Lead Actress in Film, Best Supporting Actor in Film, Best Supporting Actress in Film), and four Series categories (Best Drama Series, Best Comedy Series, Best Actress in a Series, and Best Actor in a Series).
The awards were first presented in 1958 during the Melbourne Film Festival at Melbourne University's Union Theatre. The awards were presented in Melbournefor the first decade, but with the inauguration of the AACTA Awards the ceremony moved to Sydney. Awards are handed out over two separate events; the AACTA Awards Luncheon, a black tie event where accolades are given for achievements in non-feature and short films, film production (with the exception of the Best Film, Direction and Screenplay awards), non-drama related television programs and the Longford Lyell Award; the AACTA Awards Ceremony presents the awards in all other categories at a larger venue and is broadcast on television.
Awards were originally presented at the end of each calendar year (November or December) to celebrate film achievements of the corresponding year but beginning in 2012, the awards date was changed to January to celebrate films from the previous year.
Throughout the history of the awards there have been several differently designed awards given to winners. Most notable ones given are: the "Kodak film award," a gold, silver, or bronze medal, which was handed out from 1958 to 1975; the Grand Prix award which was a "bronze leaf shaped award mounted on a square wooden base," also presented between 1958 and 1975; a statuette, made of acrylic on a silver metal base, handed out from 1979 to 2010; and a gold statuette, based on the Southern Cross constellation, which has been in use since 2012.
A medal was used between 1958 and 1975 as a gold, silver or bronze prize and depicted "three leaping jesters." Around the left side, there is a film strip with a leaping jester in each frame. Around the right side is embossed with "THE KODAK FILM AWARD." The medal, which was designed by Andor Mészáros, represents two elements of film-making: the leaping jesters represent what the audience sees on screen, and the roll of film on the right symbolize the individual frames which capture the motion depicted. It was designed in Melbourne, Victoria and minted by John Pinchas in London, in 1958.
The statuette used between 1979 and 2010 is made of "four clear acrylic rectangular prisms on a silver metal base, green felt on bottom"; a plaque, which is attached to the base, has the "afi" insignia, with the words "Australian Film Institute" beneath it; a description of the award category, the recipient of the award, and the film title cascade below each other. The statuette stands at 295mm in height, 70mm in width and 70mm in depth.
When the Australian Film Institute launched the Australian Academy of Cinema and Television Arts, it set out to create a new gold cast statuette. The statuette, first handed out in 2012 for the inaugural AACTA Awards, had to "reflect the prestige and heritage of the Awards[...] but which was above all distinctly Australian," while incorporating the Southern Cross constellation and the human spirit. After receiving submissions from Australian artists, with their interpretations of the design brief, a statuette designed by sculptor Ron Gomboc became the winning design. The statuette, which has a 22 karat gold body, whose human form takes on the shape of the Southern Cross, on a tiger iron gemstone base, was designed over three months at Gomboc's home in Western Australia, before it was presented to the AFI board in June 2011.
Gomboc worked with stone artist, Richard Williamson, who cut and polished each individual gemstone base for the statuette, with each base representing "[...] the unique talent and contribution to the industry of every AACTA Award recipient." It was well received in the media, with Garry Maddox from the Sydney Morning Herald comparing it to the previous statuette, stating that it, "looks less like a lethal doorstop and more like a stylised Oscar, possibly Oscar's flamboyant brother waving 'hi'."
The AACTA Award statuette remains the property of the Australian Film Institute, and is to remain with the winner and their heirs and descendants. It cannot be sold to a third party and if it were to part from the winner or their heir and descendants, the Academy reserves the right to repurchase it for one dollar. The award may, however, have its ownership transferred to a museum, gallery or other not-for-profit institution, at the AFI's discretion.
Rules and voting
To be eligible for nomination, a production must contain “significant Australian content” have at least 51 percent financing from Australian investors, be an official co-production or have been produced under the creative control of Australians. A production cannot have been previously submitted for consideration. Entries must be completed via the AACTA Awards Online entry portal. The submission of a production must be accompanied by an entry fee in Australian dollars. The fees payable in relation to each Award Category are stated on the AACTA Website. Detailed rules for submission are contained in the AACTA Awards Rule Book.
At the time of the awards inception, a jury of five judges, composed of film critics and filmmakers, determined the winner of a production. In 1976, the jury system was replaced by a peer voting process for feature films which would allow public members the right to vote, but only in the Best Film category. The nominees and winners were later peer-voted by a jury which was made up of representatives from all industry crafts, including members of guilds, who have a "professional membership" with the AFI.
When the AFI announced the launch of the Australian Academy of Cinema and Television Arts, it introduced a two step voting process: Round one viewing and voting determine the year's AACTA Award Nominees; Round two viewing and voting determines the year's AACTA Award Winners.AACTA members are drawn from every sector of the screen entertainment industry including Free-To-Air Television, Streaming/SVOD/Subscription Television, Online/Digital, and Film and Documentary. All AACTA members vote on the nominees and winners across all major Award categories. The determination of Technical Craft nominees and winners across TV, Film, and Documentary is limited to Professional members with relevant craft accreditation.
Criticisms and controversies
There have been controversial decisions of the Australian Film Institute Awards that have led to claims that it has broken its own rules by including an unscreened mini series in the 2005 awards judging:
The controversy is a blow for the institute, which after years of criticism this year revamped its awards in an effort to restore credibility. ... Producer John Edwards, who collected seven nominations for Foxtel's Love My Way, did not enter a second drama series, The Surgeon, because it missed the screening deadline. "If I'd known it was this flexible, of course I would have entered it," Edwards said. "Awards are useless if they break their own rules."
There has also been controversy over both the exclusion and inclusion of films that are technically Australian productions, but are made overseas, with foreign funding and/or foreign talent.
- A lack of recognition for the Australian film production Disgrace (released in late 2008) was noted by critics Eddie Cockrell and Lynden Barber, commentator Charles Waterstreet and others. The film – based on a book by the South African-born Australian novelist J. M. Coetzee, set in South Africa and made on location there with an international cast – was directed and adapted for the screen by the Australian husband and wife team of Anna Maria Monticelli and Steve Jacobs.
- Conversely, the 13 AACTA awards, including an acting award presented to Leonardo DiCaprio, received in 2014 by Baz Luhrmann's The Great Gatsby were controversial, due to the film's perceived Americanness. Lurhrmann pointed out that – although the film was financed by a major US film studio and based on F. Scott Fitzgerald's classic US novel of the same name – Gatsby met the criteria of an Australian production.
International film awards
Television Awards Notes:
- From 2003–2005, the Best Television Comedy Series award was known as Best Comedy Series – Sitcom or Sketch.
- In 1993, and then from 1995 to 2001, the Best Drama Series award was split into two categories: Best Episode in a Television Drama, Series or Serial and Best Episode in a Television Drama Serial (the latter was changed to Best Episode in a Television Drama Series (Long) in 1998).
- From 1991–2010, the Best Children's Television Series was known as Best Children's Television Drama.
- From 1986–1989, the Best Telefeature, Mini Series or Short Run Series was two separate categories for Mini Series and Telefeatures. The two categories were merged in 1990 and became known as Best Telefeature or Mini Series, and in 2008 the awards name was changed to include Short Run Series.
- The award for Best Comedy Performance, and the awards for Best Lead Actor and Best Actress in a Television Drama was merged from 2004–2005 as the award for Best Actor and Best Actress in a Leading Role in a Television Drama or Comedy. They were separated in 2006 when the Best Comedy Performance award was introduced.
- The awards for Best Lead Actor and Best Lead Actress in a Television Drama was first awarded in 1986, in two categories for performance by an actor in a Mini Series and Telefeature. The two awards were merged, and presented in 1990, and was changed again in 1991 as the award for Best Actor in a Leading Role and Best Actress in a Leading Role in a Television Drama. In 2000 the awards for Best Actor and Best Actress in a Telefeature or Mini Series was re-introduced as a separate category. From 2002 all awards were combined under the titles Best Lead Actor and Best Lead Actress in a Television Drama.
- The awards for Best Guest or Supporting Actor and Best Guest or Supporting Actress was first awarded for a performance in a guest role in a television drama from 2000–2001. In 2002, the categories were changed to Best Actor and Best Actress in a Supporting or Guest Role in a Television Drama, and in 2004 it became Best Actor and Best Actress in a Supporting or Guest Role in a Television Drama or Comedy. In 2006, the Best Guest or Supporting Actor in Television Drama was reintroduced after the Best Comedy Performance award was established.
- From 1986–1989 the award for Best Direction in Television was presented in two separate categories for Mini Series and Telefeatures. In 1990 both categories were merged as Best Direction in a Telefeature or Mini Series, and in 1991 it was renamed Best Achievement in Direction in a Television Drama. It then became Best Direction in Television in 2004.
- From 1986–1989 the award for Best Screenplay in Television was presented in two separate categories for Mini Series and Telefeatures. In 1990 both categories were merged as Best Screenplay in a Telefeature or Mini Series, and in 1991 it was renamed Best Screenplay in a Television Drama. It then became Best Screenplay in Television in 2004.
- 2021 AACTA Awards Rule Book Australian Academy of Cinema and Television Arts. Retrieved September 5, 2022.
- Cathy Hope and Adam Dickerson, 'Films for the intelligent layman': The origins of the Sydney and Melbourne Film Festivals (1952–1958) Screening the Past. Retrieved September 5, 2022.
- Lisa French and Mark Poole, Shining a Light: 50 Years of the Australian Film Institute Australian Teachers of Media (2013). Retrieved September 1, 2022
- P.M. Presents Film Awards Sydney Morning Herald, December 3, 1969. Retrieved September 5, 2022.
- Ina Bertrand, Some Early History of the Australian Film Institute: A Memoir of the 1970s Screening the Past. Retrieved September 5, 2022.
- AFI proposes Australian Academy, officially moves Awards date IF.com.au, June 1, 2011. Retrieved September 5, 2022.
- Karl Quinn, AFI gong gone in hustle for global muscle The Age, August 19, 2011. Retrieved September 5, 2022.
- David Knox, Australian Academy replaces AFI Awards TV Tonight, August 19, 2011. Retrieved September 5, 2022.
- AACTA Raymond Longford Award Recipients AACTA: The Longford Lyell Award. Retrieved September 5, 2022.
- AACTA International Awards AACTA. Retrieved September 5, 2022.
- Colin Delaney, AACTA launches international awards; announces dates for local awards Mumbrella, November 8, 2011. Retrieved September 5, 2022.
- Medal – The Kodak Film Award, Kodak (Australia) Pty Ltd, Australia, 1958 (Silver Medal) Museum Victoria. Retrieved September 5, 2022.
- Medal - The Kodak Film Award, Kodak (Australia) Pty Ltd, Australia, 1958 Museum Victoria. Retrieved September 5, 2022.
- Australian Film Institute Award, 1980, to Jack Thompson for his role of leading actor in the film Breaker Morant National Museum of Australia. Retrieved September 5, 2022.
- The Story of the Statuette Australian Academy of Cinema and Television Arts. Retrieved September 1, 2022.
- Garry Maddox, And the award for re-invention goes to … The Sydney Morning Herald, August 19, 2011. Retrieved September 5, 2022.
- AACTA Awards: Voting AACTA. Retrieved September 5, 2022.
- Kylie Miller, AFI drama over bent rules The Age, October 26, 2005. Retrieved September 5, 2022.
- Lynden Barber, AFI snub of Disgrace is a disgrace - director Steve Jacobs Eyes Wide Open, November 26, 2009. Retrieved September 5, 2022.
- Vicky Roach, Great Gatsby director Baz Luhrmann says his film is an Australian movie News Corp Australia Network, May 25, 2013. Retrieved September 5, 2022.
- Winners and Nominees AACTA. Retrieved September 1, 2022.
ReferencesISBN links support NWE through referral fees
- French, Lisa, and Mark Poole. Shining a Light: 50 Years of the Australian Film Institute. Australian Teachers of Media, 2013. OCLC 535469369
- Gonzales, Miguel. Inaugural AACTA Awards, 2011 National Film and Sound Archive of Australia. Retrieved September 5, 2022.
- Peirce, Andrew F. What’s Going on with the AACTA’s: Are Australia’s Academy Awards OK? The Curb, October 7, 2020. Retrieved September 5, 2022.
- Smith, Michelle. The AACTA Awards and Australia’s ‘national imagination’ The Conversation, January 31, 2014. Retrieved September 5, 2022.
All links retrieved June 13, 2023.
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