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With five major awards from Australia’s professional film critics this week, Japanese Story is emerging as the year’s locally made movie success story, with not just critical acclaim but commercial success, having taken over $2.5 million in five weeks and still at No 10, reports Andrew L. Urban.

The FCCA – Films Critics Circle of Australia – presented their annual awards tonight (October 31, 2003) and Japanese Story won the Best Film, Director, Actress, Cinematography and Music awards. Also nominated for Best Film were Rolf de Heer’s Alexandra’s Project, Jonathan Teplitzky’s Gettin’ Square, and Russell Mulcahy’s Swimming Upstream.

The nominees who attended the presentation dinner at the fashionable Dockside, Cockle Bay in Sydney’s revitalised Darling Harbour, included Rachel Ward (Director-Martha’s New Coat), Justine Clarke (Best Supporting Actress–Danny Deckchair), Rolf De Heer (Director-Alexandra’s Project), Helen Buday (Best Actress–Alexandra’s Project), Russell Mulcahy (Director–Swimming Upstream), Sue Brooks (Director–Japanese Story), Alison Tilson (Screenwriter–Japanese Story), Sue Maslin (Producer–Japanese Story), David Field (Best Supporting Actor–The Night We Called It A Day) and Bogdan Koca (Best Supporting Actor–Alexandra’s Project). 

Others at the event include the host of the night Rachael Blake, special guest presenter Rebecca Frith (Violet Lives Upstairs), Tony Martin (Wildside, Blue Murder) and Lee Hirsh, the visiting South African director of the award winning documentary Amandla.

Film distributors, exhibitors and publicists joined members of the FCCA and film writers, and Nick Whitlam accepted the award on behalf of his friend Anthony Fingleton (Adapted Screenplay) who is in London. 

The 2003 Winners for the Film Critics Circle of Australia Awards are:

Best Film
Japanese Story
Producer: Sue Maslin

Best Director
Sue Brooks - Japanese Story

Best Actor 
David Wenham - Gettin’ Square

Best Actress
Toni Collette - Japanese Story

Best Actor in a Supporting Role
David Field - The Night We Called it a Day

Best Actress in a Supporting Role
Judy Davis - Swimming Upstream

Best Cinematography
Ian Baker - Japanese Story

Best Original Screenplay
Rolf de Heer - Alexandra’s Project

Best Screenplay – Adapted From Another Source
Anthony Fingleton - Swimming Upstream

Best Editing
Marcus D’Arcy - Swimming Upstream

Best Music Score
Elizabeth Drake - Japanese Story

Best Documentary - Joint Award
Desperate Man Blues
Director: Edward Gillan 
The Original Mermaid
Director: Michael Cordell

Emerging Talent Award
Writer/Director Christopher Jones (VCA) 

Best Australian Short Feature
Martha’s New Coat 
Director: Rachel Ward 
Producer: Liz Watts

Best Short Film 
Violet Lives Upstairs
Director: Ben Hackworth
Producer: Gabrielle Jones

Best Foreign Language Film
Spirited Away - Japan 
Distributor: Niche Pictures and Madman Entertainment

Best Foreign Film – English Language 

Donnie Darko
Director: Richard Kelly
Distributor: Imagine Entertainment

And the Sponsors are ….
All award presentations run on sponsorship money (the Oscars on tv rights) but it’s instructive to see that many of the donors of cash and or services to the film critics’ awards are not in it for commercial gain. Indeed, of all the corporations who assist, the ones that provide the most are the ones that get the least tangible returns. 

In this breakdown of the 2003 sponsors and donors, the commercial operators such as Tempus Two Wines, Encore, Vittoria Coffee etc, are the ones who provide the all important back up benefits, not the biggest bucks. This is understandable on two counts:

1) the FCCA Awards, while perhaps the most prestigious by virtue of its voting base of professional film critics, is not televised and thus enjoys a lower profile – hence lower exposure for donors/sponsors

2) the value of these awards is as much cultural/creative as commercial; their importance in the screen culture of Australia is high, and growing as Australian filmmaking matures.

The breakdown for 2003 sponsors/donors:
Major Cash Sponsorship:

Financial assistance and / or sponsorship:
Film Australia, Film Finance Corporation, NSWFTO (donor), Australian Film Commission, AFTRS (also provides technical assistance);
Screensound: Cash Prize of $500 for Best short film (plus making a copy of winning film to put in archive. Plus product for prizes.
Tempus Two Wines - Prizes/ Gifts.
SBS - online editing services.
Encore magazine - printing and design services.
CLPR - use of premises (for preparing awards material) and sending out press releases.
Vittoria Coffee - major raffle prize
Krispie Kreme - prizes/gifts
Filmink - Awards advertising.

Published October 31, 2003

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Japanese Story - Best Film, Best Director, Best Cinematography, Best Music Score



Japanese Story - Best Film, Best Director, Best Cinematography, Best Music Score

David Wenham - Best Actor - Gettin' Square

Judy Davis - Best Supporting Actress - Swimming Upstream

David Field - Best Supporting Actor - The Night We Called It A Day

Rolf De Heer - Best Original Screenplay - Alexandra's Project

Swimming Upstream - Best Adapted Screenplay, Best Editing

Spirited Away - Best Foreign Film

Donnie Darko - Best Foreign Film (English language)

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