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With gloom and doom ringing in our ears about the doldrums of the Australian film industry, it is heartening to realise that the year has had some notable artistic successes, as demonstrated by the first of the year’s movie award nominations – the professional film critics of Australia, who will present their awards on October 31, in Sydney. Andrew L. Urban reports.

As a member of the Film Critics Circle of Australia, I am proud to take part in these annual awards, a platform to recognise excellence in Australian filmmaking, from a truly independent and professional perspective. We see all the films, often well before they are released commercially, and are not swayed by popularity at the box office. (Some films are released after voting closes.)

Considering the importance that is placed on the ‘cultural remit’ in our Government sponsored funding system, it seems peculiar that the box office is the only measure we as a community seem to apply to Australian films. So perhaps in the absence of any funding commissar making subjective evaluations of the cultural value of Government funded films, the professional critics are best placed to make those sorts of assessments. 

The nominees are in excellent company; but there has also been good work in other films screened to us this year. For example, the yet to be released drama, A Cold Summer (whose two actresses and composer are nominated) is an excellent, engaging drama. Undead, universally praised by critics as a major talent-burst from the young Spierig brothers in Queensland, puts life back into the zombie genre. Also absent is The Nugget, Bill Bennett’s understated but observant comedy, with a fine script and some entertaining comic performances. I also liked Liquid Bridge, directed by Phil Avalon, a genuinely engaging drama with a complex set of interacting scenarios, real characters and excellent performances, set in the surfing world.

The awards will be presented at the Dockside restaurant in Cockle Bay, Darling Harbour, Sydney, on October 31; tickets, which include a 3-course dinner with wine, are available to the public at $91 each. Bookings and enquires to: fcca@bigpond.com 

(Nominations are listed alphabetically by person)

Best Film

Alexandra’s Project
Producers: Julie Ryan, Domenico Procacci, Rolf de Heer

Gettin’ Square
Producers: Martin Fabinyi, Timothy White, Trish Lake

Japanese Story
Producer: Sue Maslin

Swimming Upstream
Producers: Howard Baldwin, Karen Baldwin, Andrew Mason, 
Paul Pompian

Sue Brooks - Japanese Story
Rolf de Heer - Alexandra’s Project
Russell Mulcahy - Swimming Upstream
Jonathan Teplitzky - Gettin Square

Actress (In a Lead Role)
Helen Buday - Alexandra’s Project
Toni Collette - Japanese Story
Olivia Pigeot - A Cold Summer
Susie Porter - Teesh and Trude

Actor (In a Lead Role)
Heath Ledger - Ned Kelly
Geoffrey Rush - Swimming Upstream
Gary Sweet - Alexandra’s Project
David Wenham - Gettin Square

Actor (In a Supporting Role)
Joel Edgerton - Ned Kelly
David Field - The Night We Called It A Day
Bogdan Koca - Alexandra’s Project
Garry Mc Donald - The Rage in Placid Lake

Actress (In a Supporting Role)
Justine Clarke - Danny Deckchair
Judy Davis - Swimming Upstream
Susan Prior - A Cold Summer
Miranda Richardson - The Rage in Placid Lake

Original Screenplay
Rolf de Heer - Alexandra’s Project
Louis Nowra - Black & White
Chris Nyst – Gettin’ Square
Alison Tilson - Japanese Story

Screenplay (Adapted from Another Source)
Anthony Fingleton - Swimming Upstream
John Michael McDonagh - Ned Kelly
Tony McNamara - The Rage in Placid Lake

Ian Baker - Japanese Story
Garry Phillips - Gettin' Square
Martin McGrath - Swimming Upstream
Oliver Stapleton - Ned Kelly

Original Music
Claus Badelt – Ned Kelly
Elizabeth Drake – Japanese Story
Reinholdd Heil & Johnny Klimek – Swimming Upstream
Claire Jordan – A Cold Summer

Jill Bilcock - Japanese Story
Marcus D’Arcy - Swimming Upstream
Tania Nehme - Alexandra’s Project
Ken Sallows - Gettin Square

Best Australian Short Feature
The Forest
Director: Jo Kennedy
Producer: Clare Sawyer

Martha’s New Coat
Director: Rachel Ward
Producer: Liz Watts

Director: Sofya Gollan
Producer: Della Churchill

Roy Hollsdotter Live
Director: Matthew Saville
Producer: Trevor Blainey

Foreign Language Film
Man Without A Past 
Director: Ari Kaurasmaki
Distributor: Sharmill Films

Russian Ark
Director: Alexander Sokurov
Distributor: Potential Films

Spirited Away
Director: Hayao Miyazaki
Distributor: Niche Pictures & Madman Entertainment

Talk To Her
Director: Pedro Almodovar
Distributor: 20th Century Fox

Foreign Film (English Language)
Donnie Darko
Director: Richard Kelly
Distributor: Imagine Entertainment

Far From Heaven 
Director: Todd Haynes
Distributor: Icon

The Hours
Director: Stephen Daldry
Distributor: BVI

Whale Rider
Director: Niki Caro
Distributor: BVI

Australian Documentary
Desperate Man Blues: Directed & Produced: Edward Gillan
Molly & Mobarak: Directed & Produced: Tom Zubrycki
Original Mermaid, The: Director: Michael Cordell, Producer Ian Collie
Wildness: Director Scott Millwood, Producer Michael Mc Mahon

Australian Short Films
Cracker Bag:
Director: Glendyn Ivin, Producer Jane Liscombe
Harvie Krumpet, Director: Adam Elliot, Producer: Melanie Coombs
The Projectionist, Director: Michael Bates, Producer: Anna Messariti
Violet Lives Upstairs, Director: Ben Hackworth, Producer: Gabrielle Jones

Published October 9, 2003

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Gettin' Square

Japanese Story

Alexandra's Project

Swimming Upstream


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