Miniature bottles of Spanish bubbly, plastics of orange juice, Rymill wines and Hahn beer fuelled the evening with a celebratory feel reflected in on-stage remarks extolling the virtues of Australian filmmaking.
Supported by a clutch of sponsors like Lexus (signed for 5 years as naming rights sponsor), the if awards attracted an enthusiastic crowd to Wharf 8, including Nicole Kidman, Baz Luhrmann, CM and John Cha Cha O’Connell on the Bazmark table, Sacha Horler, Toni Collette (with shaved head), Nick Giannopoulos, Peter Phelps, Jacqui Mackenzie and American star Laurence Fishburn.
The televised presentation was hosted by the inimitable Libby Gorr, and was remarkable for a short segment in which Gorr’s face was morphed into David Stratton’s, who lip-synched Gorr’s words to the amusement of all. Stratton himself was not present physically, but his Movie Show sparring partner, Margaret Pomeranz, was executive producer of the telecast, and she presented the Living Legend award (see below).
Lantana’s Anthony LaPaglia (he sent a nice acceptance speech by video) was named Best Actor and Ray Lawrence Best Director, to
join producer Jan Chapman and writer Andrew Bovell on the winner’s podium. (Bovell also came via video.)
For Moulin Rouge, it was cinematographer Don McAlpine and Craig Armstrong (original
score) with additional music composed by Steve Sharples, Chris Elliott and Marius DeVries
who collected the if awards.
The Best Actress Award was shared by the five actresses in Lantana’s ensemble cast
- Barbara Hershey, Kerry Armstrong, Leah Purcell, Rachael Blake and Daniela Farinacci.
But the most memorable award went to a filmmaker who "demonstrated the creativity,
tenacity and independence of vision required to make a compelling film, despite
challenging circumstances: 16 year old Sophie McNeill, a truly remarkable teenager from
Fremantle WA who made Awaiting Freedom, a documentary about the dire medical need that now
exists in East Timor. Despite never having made a film before and being aged only 15, she
had to convince her parents to let her fly to East Timor. Sophie had minimal resources and
funds and had to overcome a bout of tropical disease while in East Timor." She accepted the award - on the even of her final English HSC exam.
The Bank won Best Editing, La Spagnola won Best Sound Design, Bob Connolly and Robin
Anderson’s Facing the Music Best Documentary – and
they were also awarded the Living Legend Award.
The Best Animation Award went to Bernard Derriman for Chopper (the animated short, that
is); Best Short Film was Sarah Hatherley, Jenny Livingstone and Kim Snow’s Just Do
Bob Connolly and Robin Anderson won the Award for Best Documentary for Facing The Music, and were also honoured with the Living Legend Award for significant contribution to the Australian film industry, and for becoming a role model in their area of specialisation via their singular dedication to realising their creative vision.
Published midnight 7/11/2001