The same four films - Alexandra's Project, Gettin' Square, Japanese Story and Swimming Upstream - have been nominated in the best film, best director and best editing categories of the annual awards of the Film Critics Circle of Australia.

All four films were also nominated for their screenplays, alongside Black & White, in the original category, and Ned Kelly and The Rage In Placid Lake, in the adapted category. All but Alexandra's Project were nominated for cinematography, with Ned Kelly taking the fourth spot.

Alexandra's Project was directed by Rolf de Heer, who also produced alongside Domenico Procacci, who is based in Italy, and Julie Ryan, while Gettin' Square was directed by Jonathan Teplitzky and produced by Martin Fabinyi, Tim White and Trish Lake.

Japanese Story was directed by Sue Brooks and produced by Sue Maslin, and Swimming Upstream was directed by Russell Mulcahy and produced by Howard Baldwin, Karen Baldwin and Paul Pompian, all of whom are based in the US, and Andrew Mason.

The foreign film nominations highlighted the arthouse taste of critics. In the non-English category were Man Without A Past (director Aki Kaurismaki, distributor Sharmill), Russian Ark (Alexander Sokurov, Potential), Spirited Away (Hayao Miyazaki, Niche, Madman) and Talk To Her (Pedro Almodovar, 20th Century Fox).

In the English category was Donnie Darko (director Richard Kelly, distributor Imagine), Far From Heaven (Todd Haynes, Icon), The Hours (Stephen Daldry, BVI) and Whale Rider (Niki Caro, BVI)

The circle introduced a new category for 50-minute films, a form heavily supported by the Australian Film Commission and others as a stepping stone between short films and features.

Those nominated are The Forest (director Jo Kennedy, producer Clare Sawyer), Preservation (Sofya Gollan, Della Churchill), Roy Hollsdotter Live (Matthew Saville, Trevor Blainey) and Martha's New Coat (Rachel Ward, Liz Watts, and executive producer Bryan Brown).

The winners will be announced on October 31. The announcement of nominees signals the beginning of Australia's award season. Also coming up is the Australian Film Institute Awards and those associated with local magazine Inside Film.