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Animal Kingdom leads Australian Film Institute Awards

The much loved crime drama Animal Kingdom has won 10 Australian Film Institute (AFI) Awards including best film for producer Liz Watts, AFI Members’ Choice, and best direction and original script for David Michôd.

In his speech Michôd thanked the “entire cast and crew”, Watts, Bec Smith who was attached as producer during the development of the film and now works at United Talent Agency in Los Angeles, and “best friend” Mirrah Foulkes, who also appears in the film.

The film also earned Jacki Weaver and Ben Mendelsohn best acting awards, and Joel Edgerton the award for best supporting actor. A little over 24 hours later Weaver learned she had won the Los Angeles Film Critics Association Award for her performance as a sociopathic grandmother with the nickname Smurf.

Animal Kingdom began its winning streak with the Grand Jury Prize for World Cinema at the Sundance Film Festival.

The AFI Awards were held over two nights on Friday and Saturday in Melbourne. The other actors that were honoured were Deborah Mailman, for her supporting role in the musical Bran Nue Dae; Sam Worthington and Mia Wasikowska for their performances in, respectively, the non-Australian films Avatar and Alice in Wonderland; and Harrison Gilbertson, who won the award reserved for young actors for his role in the World War II drama Beneath Hill60. Mailman also won an AFI for her supporting role in the Network Ten drama Offspring.

The John Keats period romance Bright Star and the teen action adventure Tomorrow, When The War Began were the only two films besides Animal Kingdom to win more than one award. Bright Star proved itself a visual treat with Janet Patterson winning both the costume and production design categories and Greig Fraser topping the cinematography shortlist.

Tomorrow earned Stuart Beattie the award for adapted screenplay; the LA-based Australian who has been heavily involved in the Pirates Of The Caribbean franchise, said writing and directing the film was the greatest joy of his career. The sound team was also singled out for their work.

One of Australia’s most successful television producers, Reg Grundy, accepted the prestigious Raymond Longford Award and the Byron Kennedy Award went to Animal Logic, which has been developed into a digital production powerhouse by its co-founder and chief executive Zareh Nalbandian.

The telefeature Hawke, about former Australian Prime Minister Bob Hawke, was the most celebrated of the television winners.

The film winners were:

Best film - Animal Kingdom, Liz Watts

AFI members’ choice award - Animal Kingdom, Liz Watts

Direction - David Michôd, Animal Kingdom

Original screenplay - David Michôd, Animal Kingdom

Adapted screenplay - Stuart Beattie, Tomorrow, When The War Began

Lead actor - Ben Mendelsohn, Animal Kingdom

Lead actress - Jacki Weaver, Animal Kingdom

Supporting actor - Joel Edgerton, Animal Kingdom

Supporting actress - Deborah Mailman, Bran Nue Dae

Feature length documentary - Contact, Martin Butler and Bentley Dean.

International award for best actor - Sam Worthington, Avatar

International award for best actress - Mia Wasikowska, Alice In Wonderland

Young actor award - Harrison Gilbertson, Beneath Hill 60

Cinematography - Greig Fraser, Bright Star

Editing - Luke Doolan, Animal Kingdom

Sound - Andrew Plain, David Lee, Gethin Creagh, Robert Sullivan, Tomorrow, When The War Began

Original Music Score - Antony Partos, Sam Petty, Animal Kingdom

Production Design - Janet Patterson, Bright Star

Costume Design - Janet Patterson, Bright Star

Visual Effects - Peter Spierig, Michael Spierig, Rangi Sutton, James Rogers, Randy Vellacott, Daybreakers.

Raymond Longford Award - Reg Grundy

Byron Kennedy Award - presented to Zareh Nalbandian for Animal Logic.

Readers’ choice award (decided by an SMS poll of The Daily Telegraph and Herald Sun newspaper readers) - Animal Kingdom, Liz Watts

Short Animation - The Lost Thing, Sophie Byrne, Andrew Ruhemann, Shaun Tan.

Short Fiction Film - The Kiss, Sonya Humphrey, Ashlee Page.

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