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:: Spotlight :: 7th AACTA Awards

By: Carmine Pascuzzi

The Australian Academy of Cinema and Television Arts (AACTA) has revealed the first nominees for the 7th AACTA Awards presented by Foxtel. Nominees were announced in two categories: Best Short Fiction Film and Best Short Animation.

Further nominees will be announced later this year, with winners across all categories to be announced at AACTA’s two major events, the Industry Luncheon and the Ceremony and Official After Party, in Sydney this December.

AACTA AWARD FOR SHORT FICTION FILM NOMINEES
THE ELEVEN O’CLOCK Derin Seale, Josh Lawson, Karen Bryson
MIRO Victoria Wharfe McIntyre, Fran Dobbie, Amadeo Marquez-Perez
MRS MCCUTCHEON John Sheedy, Andre Lima, Jenny Vila
SLAPPER Luci Shroder, Jason Byrne, Michael Latham, Stephanie Westwood

Marking a strong year for Australian short film, all of this year’s Best Short Fiction Film nominees have received critical acclaim following screenings at a host of Australian and international film festivals.

Written, produced and starring internationally acclaimed Australian actor Josh Lawson (HOUSE OF LIES, THE LITTLE DEATH, HOGES), THE ELEVEN O’CLOCK follows the delusional patient of a psychiatrist who believes he is actually the psychiatrist. THE ELEVEN O’CLOCK, directed by Derin Seale, was awarded Best Comedy at LA Shorts Festival 2016, Best Narrative Short at Cinequest 2017, Best Screenplay at FlickerFest 2017 and Audience Choice for Best Comedy Short Film at Cleveland International Film Festival 2017.

A WWII Aboriginal Western, MIRO stars AACTA Award-nominated actor Mark Coles Smith (LAST CAB TO DARWIN, PAWNO) and Aaron McGrath (JASPER JONES, GLITCH, THE CODE). The film’s nomination follows sell out screenings at GI Film Festival in Washington DC, and is writer and director Victoria Wharfe McIntyre’s second nomination in the category, having previously been nominated at the inaugural AACTA Awards for THE TELEGRAM MAN.

MRS MCCUTCHEON marks multiple Helpmann, Sydney Theatre Critics and WA Equity Award-winning theatre director John Sheedy’s film debut. The short film, which aims to give a voice to the thousands of trans and gender diverse children, has received acclaim at international film festivals including the 33rd Hamburg International Short Film Festival and the 63rd Oberhausen International Film Festival in Germany, where it received a special mention in the International Children’s Competition Award.

Directed by Luci Shroder, SLAPPER follows a rebellious and broke teen in Australian suburbia. SLAPPER has received critical acclaim on the festival circuit, picking up a number of awards, including: Best Short Film at the 2016 Australian Directors’ Guild Awards, Best Short Fiction Film at Sydney Film Festival 2016, the Emerging Australian Filmmaker Award at Melbourne International Film Festival 2016 and a nomination for the Short Film Grand Jury Prize at Sundance Film Festival 2017.

AACTA AWARD FOR SHORT ANIMATION NOMINEES
AFTER ALL Michael Cusack, Richard Chataway
BARBARA Larissa Behrendt, Marieka Walsh, Kiki Dillon, Michaela Perske
LOST PROPERTY OFFICE Daniel Agdag, Liz Kearney
THE WALL Nick Baker, Tristan Klein

A strong presence at festivals also precede AACTA nominations for three of the Short Animation nominees and their filmmakers.
Michael Cusack receives his third nomination in the Best Short Animation category for AFTER ALL, having previously won in 2006 for GARGOYLE as well as receiving a nomination in 2013 for SLIGHT OF HAND, for which AFTER ALL producer Richard Chataway was also nominated. AFTER ALL is a poignant stop motion film about a middle-aged man coming to terms with the loss of his mother.

AACTA Award winner Marieka Walsh receives her second consecutive nomination in the category for BARBARA, which follows the story of Noongar woman Barbara, whose granddaughter was taken from school by welfare workers in 2013. Walsh is nominated alongside Larissa Behrendt, the award-winning author and director of the Walkley Award nominated documentary INNOCENCE BETRAYED, Michaela Perske, an award-winning journalist and producer, who worked alongside fellow nominee Kiki Dillon, on DREAM BABY, last year’s winner of the AACTA Award for Best Short Fiction Film.

Daniel Adgag’s LOST PROPERTY OFFICE, which follows the sole custodian of a lost property office who has to move on from his post, swept the Sydney Film Festival 2017 short film awards, picking up both the Robert Mamoulian Award for Best Director and the Yoram Gross Animation Award.

Narrated by AFI Award winner David Wenham and sparked by Donald Trump’s plan to build a wall on the Mexican border, THE WALL won Best Visual Effects at Tropfest 2017 and was a finalist for the Yoram Gross Animation Award at Sydney Film Festival 2017. THE WALL marks four time Tropfest finalists Nick Baker and Tristan Klein’s first AACTA nomination.

“We are excited to see Australian short films getting such recognition at film festivals both here and internationally, further cementing Australia’s international reputation for excellence in our industry,” said AFI | AACTA CEO Damian Trewhella. “On behalf of AACTA, I congratulate all our short film nominees and wish them the very best for the 7th AACTA Awards presented by Foxtel.”

The Short Fiction Film and Short Animation nominated films will screen during AACTA’s Festival of Australian Film – For Your Consideration screenings (formerly the Official Screenings Program), alongside the Feature Length Documentary nominees and feature films in competition, which will be announced in early August. The program will screen in cinemas throughout August and September and online via AACTA TV. Further details to be announced.

AACTA’s two major Awards events will both be held this December at The Star Event Centre in Sydney – the home of the AACTA Awards.
The 7th AACTA Awards presented by Foxtel | Industry Luncheon will be held on Monday 4 December; and the 7th AACTA Awards presented by Foxtel | Ceremony & Official After Party will be held on Wednesday 6 December, televised on Channel Seven with encore screenings on Foxtel.

Tickets for both events will go on sale in early October 2017.

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The Australian Academy of Cinema and Television Arts (AACTA) announced that the 7th AACTA Awards will again be telecast on Channel 7 and that Foxtel will return as the Presenting Partner for the 7th and 8th AACTA Awards.

Officially launching the seventh Awards season, AACTA also today announced the dates for the two major 7th AACTA Awards events, both held at The Star Event Centre in Sydney for the sixth year running. The 7th AACTA Awards presented by Foxtel | Industry Luncheon will be held on Monday 4 December, followed by the 7th AACTA Awards presented by Foxtel | Ceremony & Official After Party on Wednesday 6 December, televised on Channel 7 for the third consecutive year with encore screenings on Foxtel.

As a leader in the Australian screen industry and long-time partner of AFI | AACTA, Foxtel’s additional support marks a significant endorsement of the AACTA Awards and the pursuit of excellence in the Australian screen industry as a whole. Foxtel have produced some of Australia’s most popular television shows including AFI and AACTA Award winning productions LOVE MY WAY, THE KETTERING INCIDENT and WENTWORTH which, now in its fifth season is airing in more than ninety countries with three international remakes, further cementing the strong international profile of Australian made screen content.

The renewed two-year partnership will also see Foxtel continue as the Presenting Partner of the AACTA Award for Best Film and will see AFI | AACTA members benefit from special Foxtel subscription offers.

AFI | AACTA CEO Damian Trewhella said:

“Foxtel is, and always has been, a great supporter of Australian screen content. We are thrilled to continue our Presenting Partner relationship with Foxtel, whose commitment to developing, promoting and celebrating Australian film and television aligns so closely with AACTA’s mission. We’re also very pleased that for the third consecutive year the AACTA Awards will be telecast primetime nationally on Channel Seven, Australia’s leading free to air network and another company committed to sharing great Australian stories including Seven produced A PLACE TO CALL HOME.” I look forward to celebrating the Australian screen community, alongside all our valued partners, this December at the 7th AACTA Awards presented by Foxtel.”

Foxtel Executive Director of Television Brian Walsh said:

“Foxtel is proud to continue its role as presenting partner for the 7th AACTA Awards, further cementing the company’s commitment to developing, promoting and celebrating the Australian film and television community. At Foxtel we are committed to producing a wide range of local content for our customers and this partnership with AACTA provides the ideal platform to embrace, recognise and celebrate the vibrant Australian film and television industry. We look forward to this year’s Awards and particularly those nominated in subscription television which, last year, saw our diverse drama slate celebrated so comprehensively including wins for Best Television Drama and Best Mini Series”.

Seven’s Director of Production Brad Lyons said:

“We all look forward to television’s night of nights. The bringing together of both the film and television industries in this black tie event is a fitting celebration of the passion behind telling great Australian stories.”

The Star’s General Manager Marketing and Entertainment Melinda Madigan said:

“The Star is delighted to continue our support of the AACTA Awards, which seamlessly align with The Star’s focus on delivering thrilling entertainment experiences. In fact this will be the sixth consecutive year The Star has hosted the AACTAs, reinforcing The Star as the true home to Sydney’s most profiled and illustrious events. These Awards are a much anticipated and significant highlight on Sydney’s annual event calendar. As the official Destination Partner and host to the coveted 7th annual AACTA Awards The Star is proud to stand alongside AACTA to showcase Sydney and to globally recognise Australia’s innovative and creative talents in film and television”.

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**Update as at August 11, 2017**

The Australian Academy of Cinema and Television Arts (AACTA) recently announced the nominees for Best Feature Length Documentary as well as the feature films in competition for this year’s AACTA Awards – Australia’s highest screen accolade.

Reinforcing a strong year for Australian documentary and following changes to the nominations process to introduce a Documentary Branch, AACTA has announced five nominees for Best Feature Length Documentary: CASTING JONBENÉT, DAVID STRATTON: A CINEMATIC LIFE, DEEP WATER: THE REAL STORY, WHITELEY and ZACH’S CEREMONY.

The nominees represent a fascinating collection of stories, including an exploration into one of the world’s most infamous child murder mysteries, a national treasure’s deep dive into Australia’s cinematic legacy, a gripping account of Sydney’s gay hate crime epidemic in the 1980s and 1990s, a visual journey into the private life and creative legacy of one of Australia’s most acclaimed artists, and a look at the challenges of becoming a man in both Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australia.

“Through the establishment of our Documentary Branch, we’ve been pleased to open up the nominations process to all of our AACTA members with documentary credits,” said AFI | AACTA CEO Damian Trewhella. “By engaging with the larger documentary community, we’ve seen overwhelming engagement and an increase in votes, which showed five clear nominees from our thriving documentary industry.”

In addition, a record breaking 35 feature films will compete for nominations at this year’s AACTA Awards. The full list of feature films in competition are: 2:22, A FEW LESS MEN, ALI’S WEDDING, AUSTRALIA DAY, BAD BLOOD, BAD GIRL, BERLIN SYNDROME, BETTER WATCH OUT, BLUE WORLD ORDER, THE BUTTERFLY TREE, THE COLOUR OF DARKNESS, DANCE ACADEMY: THE MOVIE, THE DEATH AND LIFE OF OTTO BLOOM, DON’T TELL, DRAMA, ELLIPSIS, EMO: THE MUSICAL, EVENT ZERO, HOUNDS OF LOVE, JASPER JONES, JUNGLE, KILLING GROUND, THE LEGEND OF BEN HALL, THE LEGO® BATMAN MOVIE, LION, ONE LESS GOD, THE OSIRIS CHILD: SCIENCE FICTION VOLUME ONE, RED DOG: TRUE BLUE, RIP TIDE, SKIN DEEP, THE SPACE BETWEEN, THAT’S NOT ME, THREE SUMMERS, WHAT IF IT WORKS? and ZELOS.

This year, AACTA introduced a new feature film eligibility policy to pave the way to a more inclusive approach. The Academy is pleased to report that the policy change saw an increase in the number of films and filmmakers competing, a 74% increase in the number of female filmmakers and a marked increase in the number of emerging filmmakers competing alongside industry luminaries.

AFI Award-winning actor David Wenham competes with his feature film directorial debut ELLIPSIS, alongside exciting new talent including Ben Young with HOUNDS OF LOVE and Garth Davis, whose debut feature film LION received six Oscar® nominations. Past AFI and AACTA Award-winning and nominated directors competing include: Cate Shortland (BERLIN SYNDROME), Jeffrey Walker (ALI’S WEDDING, DANCE ACADEMY: THE MOVIE), Kriv Stenders (RED DOG: TRUE BLUE, AUSTRALIA DAY) and Rachel Perkins (JASPER JONES).

This year’s mix of feature films in competition also sees an exciting showcase of Australia’s young actors, including Levi Miller, Aaron McGrath, Angourie Rice, Olivia DeJonge, Ed Oxenbould, Xenia Goodwin, and Indian actor Sunny Pawar, who won the hearts of audiences worldwide as the young Saroo in LION.

These young actors compete alongside top Australian and international talent, including: Nicole Kidman, Dev Patel, Daniel Radcliffe, Hugo Weaving, Toni Collette, Magda Szubanski, Michael Caton, Emma Booth, Stephen Curry, Aaron Pedersen, Teresa Palmer and Melissa George.

AACTA has also launched the Festival of Australian Film – For Your Consideration (formerly the Official Screenings Program), which will see members experience the best of Australian cinema this year alongside peers and cinema lovers. The full program will screen again in Sydney and Melbourne, with the full program to be extended to Brisbane for the first time in nine years.

The Festival will also return to Perth, screening the nominees for Best Feature Length Documentary, Best Short Fiction Film and Best Short Animation.
AACTA’s Festival of Australian Film – For Your Consideration will open in Sydney and Melbourne in late August with special preview screenings of ALI’S WEDDING, the winner of Sydney Film Festival’s Foxtel Movies Audience Award for Best Feature.

The AACTA Awards are proudly supported by the New South Wales Government through its tourism and major events agency, Destination NSW.

7TH AACTA AWARDS PRESENTED BY FOXTEL
AACTA’s two major Awards events will both be held this December at The Star Event Centre in Sydney – the home of the AACTA Awards.
The 7th AACTA Awards presented by Foxtel | Industry Luncheon will be held on Monday 4 December; and
The 7th AACTA Awards presented by Foxtel | Ceremony & Official After Party will be held on Wednesday 6 December, televised on Channel Seven with encore screenings on Foxtel.
Tickets for both events will go on sale in early October 2017.

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**Update as at October 14, 2017**

The Australian Academy of Cinema and Television Arts (AACTA) announced the nine Asian films nominated for the inaugural AACTA Award for Best Asian Film. The Award, which was announced earlier this year alongside AACTA’s Asia International Engagement Program, acknowledges the finest Asian films of the last twelve months, reflecting the popularity and importance of Asian films in Australia.

The winner of the Award, determined by the Best Asian Film Grand Jury led by Oscar® and multiple AFI and AACTA Award-winning actor Russell Crowe, will be announced in Sydney at the 7th AACTA Awards Ceremony presented by Foxtel on Wednesday 6 December 2017 at The Star Event Centre.

“It’s an honour to act as President of the inaugural Best Asian Film Grand Jury,” said Crowe. “The calibre, range and diversity of Asian cinema is extraordinary and this new award sets up a very unique framework to recognise these films, connecting Asian-Australian filmgoers and the broader Australian audience with more Asian cinema, and vice versa.”

The line-up of nominees, representing films from India, China, South Korea, Japan and the Philippines, includes record-breaking box office hits, Best Foreign Language Film Oscar entries, arthouse masterpieces and critically acclaimed social commentaries that have triggered worldwide debate.

The nine nominees are:
BIRDSHOT (Philippines)
DANGAL (India)
I AM NOT MADAME BOVARY (China)
KAASAV: TURTLE (India)
OUR TIME WILL COME (China)
PINK (India)
TRAIN TO BUSAN (South Korea)
WOLF WARRIOR II (China)
YOUR NAME (Japan)

Filipino thriller BIRDSHOT’s nomination follows its Australian premiere at the Adelaide Film Festival earlier this month. The film premiered worldwide at the 2016 Tokyo International Film Festival, where it won Best Picture in the Asian Future category, and was recently announced as the Philippine’s entry for the Oscar® for Best Foreign Language Film.

DANGAL has not only received critical acclaim but has also broken box office records, becoming the first Indian film to gross $300 million worldwide and the highest-grossing Indian film worldwide. The Hindi language sports film has also won awards at the 64th National Film Awards and 62nd Filmfare Awards in India, as well as receiving the Telstra People’s Choice Award at the 2017 Indian Film Festival of Melbourne.

Based on Chinese novelist Liu Zhenyun’s I Did Not Kill My Husband, I AM NOT MADAME BOVARY marks Zhenyun, director Feng Xiaogang, multi-Award winning actress Fan BingBing’s second collaboration, following the Golden Rooster nominated CELL PHONE. The film has been critically praised, in particular for its innovative use of circular frames, receiving a slew of awards, including a Toronto International Film Festival International Critics’ Award and the Golden Seashell at the 64th San Sebastian International Film Festival.

Lauded for addressing the subject of mental health, KAASAV: TURTLE is the latest film from seven-time National Film Award-winning Marathi filmmakers Sumitra Bhave and Sunil Sukthankar. The Marathi-language film became the fifth film in the language to win India’s National Film Award for Best Feature Film in its 64-year history.

Berlinale Camera winner and eight-time Hong Kong Film Award-winning director Ann Hui’s war epic OUR TIME WILL COME portrays the fight and struggles of resistance groups during the Japanese occupation of Hong Kong. The film adds an AACTA nomination to a growing list of nominations, including five nominations for the 54th Golden Horse Awards in China.

Hindi social thriller PINK has received universal acclaim for its candid focus on the treatment of women in Indian culture. The film, which received the National Film Award for Best Film on Social Issues, challenges many of the Bollywood film industry’s clichés and has opened up debate around consent, patriarchy and the treatment of women in India.

After premiering at the Midnight Screenings at the 2016 Cannes Film Festival, zombie horror film TRAIN TO BUSAN went on to become the highest grossing film of 2016 in South Korea. The film has received numerous accolades, including awards at Sitges International Fantastic Film Festival, San Sebastian Horror and Fantasy Film Festival and was nominated for Best Horror Film by the American Academy of Science Fiction, Fantasy and Horror Films.

WOLF WARRIOR II has seen massive commercial success since releasing in July, breaking multiple box office records and becoming the highest grossing Chinese film of all time and the first and only non-Hollywood film on the list of 100 highest-grossing films of all time, worldwide. The Chinese action film has also received critical acclaim and was recently announced as China’s entry for the Oscars Best Foreign Language Film.

Animated Japanese film YOUR NAME has received widespread acclaim from critics, numerous accolades and box-office success. Following the story of a high school girl and boy who swap bodies, the film has become the second-largest grossing domestic film in Japan and the highest grossing anime film worldwide.

“We are proud to honour the work of our Asian neighbours, whose films are more popular in Australia than ever before, and to recognise the rich storytelling from this region through the inaugural AACTA Award for Best Asian Film,” said AFI | AACTA CEO Damian Trewhella. “The nine nominees form a unique snapshot of the finest Asian films released in Australia in the last year and are all must see films.”

With a long list of eligible films from the Asian region released in Australia during the eligibility period, competition for a nomination was fierce. The long list of contenders was reviewed and judged by three Pre-Selection Committees made up of esteemed industry figures. Each of the committees assessed a specific region – China, India and another committee that encompassed South Korea, Japan and other Asian territories – in accordance with their knowledge and experience, determining three clear nominees from each of their allocated regions.

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**Update as at November 25, 2017**

The Australian Academy of Cinema and Television Arts (AACTA) has announced the star-studded line-up of presenters and attendees of the 7th AACTA Awards Ceremony presented by Foxtel. Held at The Star Event Centre in Sydney on Wednesday 6 December and telecast on Channel 7, tickets are
still available to enjoy a night of glamour and entertainment with the country’s biggest stars. Tickets are open to the public and industry and are selling fast. To book, visit www.aacta.org.

The Ceremony will see some of Australia’s top film and television talent take to the stage to present, including: Jessica Marais, Rachel Griffiths, Bryan Brown, Charlie Pickering, Noni Hazlehurst, Shane Jacobson, Sophie Monk, Rob Collins, Samara Weaving, Daniel MacPherson, Tom Gleeson, Erik Thomson, Melina Vidler, Ryan Corr, Dan Wyllie and celebrated Indian actor and member of the Best Asian Film Grand Jury Anupam Kher.

Nominees announced as presenters today include: Celia Pacquola, Pamela Rabe, Marta Dusseldorp, Stephen Curry, Emma Booth, Osamah Sami, Ewen Leslie and Sean Keenan.

A number of Australia’s rising stars will also present at the AACTA Awards Ceremony, including: Angourie Rice, Nicholas Hamilton, Madeline Madden, and stars of the upcoming remake of STORM BOY, Finn Little and Morgana Davies.

Last year’s Longford Lyell recipient Paul Hogan will attend the Ceremony alongside a number of this year’s nominees, including: Anthony LaPaglia, Shaynna Blaze, Luke McGregor, Don Hany, Jack Thompson, Kate McLennan, Sara West, Matt Nable, Jacqueline McKenzie and Susie Porter.

Other Australian screen stars attending include: Julia Zemiro, Danielle Cormack, David Berry, Jessica McNamee, Natalie Bassingthwaite, Xavier Samuel, Brooke Satchwell, Damon Herriman, Nicole da Silva, Robbie Majasiva, Abby Earl, Hunter Page-Lochard, Damian Walshe-Howling, Eamon Farren, Josh Lawson, Ella Scott Lynch, Lincoln Younes, Matt Levett, Adam Liaw, Lily Sullivan and Ruby Rees.

A number of AACTA’s Best Asian Film Grand Jurors will also attend the Ceremony, including: Indian actress Shabana Azmi, South Korean writer, director and producer Kim Ki-Duk, Chinese actor Ye Liu, and British producer and distributor Adam Torel.

The AACTA Awards are proudly supported by the New South Wales Government through its tourism and major events agency, Destination NSW.

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**Update as at December 4, 2017**

The Australian Academy of Cinema and Television Arts (AACTA) has announced Australian actor and director Simon Baker as this year’s recipient of the AACTA Trailblazer Award. The Trailblazer Award will be presented to Simon at the 7th AACTA Awards Ceremony presented by Foxtel on Wednesday 6 December at The Star Event Centre in Sydney, telecast at 8:30pm on Channel 7.

Previously awarded to Rose Byrne and Isla Fisher, the AACTA Trailblazer Award recognises the achievements of an Australian screen practitioner whose body of work has served as an inspiration to others. The discretionary award, which is determined by the AFI | AACTA Board, acknowledges the recipient’s valuable contribution to promoting Australian screen culture and excellence at home and abroad.

Throughout his career, Simon Baker has consistently showcased his diversity as a screen practitioner; masterfully transitioning from actor to director across film and television. First garnering international attention when he starred in the Academy Award®-winning film L.A. CONFIDENTIAL, Simon has developed a varied oeuvre throughout his career. Notable films he has starred in include Michael Winterbottom’s thriller noir THE KILLER INSIDE ME; Ang Lee’s critically acclaimed RIDE WITH THE DEVIL; lauded box office success THE DEVIL WEARS PRADA, opposite Meryl Streep and Anne Hathaway; and the Academy Award®-nominated and multiple independent award-winning feature MARGIN CALL.

From 2001-2004, Simon starred in the TV series THE GUARDIAN, for which he received a Golden Globe nomination for Best Actor in a Drama Series. In 2008, he began his role as the lead in the critically successful international hit THE MENTALIST, where he was nominated for a Primetime Emmy Award, a Golden Globe, a Screen Actors Guild Award and two People’s Choice Awards. Simon was previously nominated for an AFI Award for his performance in SECRET MEN’S BUSINESS.

Simon makes his feature film directorial debut with BREATH, an adaptation of Tim Winton’s bestselling novel, which he also co-wrote and produced. Simon stars in the West Australian-shot drama alongside Elizabeth Debicki and Richard Roxburgh. BREATH had its world premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival and will release theatrically in Australia next year on May 3.

Simon Baker said, “It’s an honour to be acknowledged at all, but to be acknowledged at home, in Australia, resonates so profoundly for me.”
“Simon Baker’s stellar reputation with audiences and industry worldwide has made him an incredible ambassador for the Australian screen industry and the outstanding screen talent it produces,” said AFI | AACTA CEO Damian Trewhella. “From his success on US television to his return to Australia for his feature film directorial debut, Simon’s career trajectory stands as an inspiration to future generations in the industry.”

The AACTA Awards are proudly supported by the New South Wales Government through its tourism and major events agency, Destination NSW.

For more information, visit

www.aacta.org