Editor Jill Bilcock received the Australian Film Institute (AFI)'s award recognising achievement on the world filmmaking stage. She thanked two people when she picked up the honours: producer Verity Lambert, who died of cancer in the UK in late November, and director Fred Schepisi.

It was Schepisi who directed Bilcock's first studio film, A Cry In the Dark, in the late 1980s and Lambert who produced it.

Among the films she has edited since are Baz Luhrmann's Moulin Rouge!, Sam Mendes' Road to Perdition, Sue Brooks' Japanese Story, Phillip Noyce's Catch a Fire and Shekhar Kapur's Elizabeth: The Golden Age.

Twenty-three AFI Awards for film, television and documentary were presented tonight as a precursor to Thursday night's much more high profile televised ceremony.

The Home Song Stories blitzed the feature film craft awards, winning five of the six categories, including best cinematography for Nigel Bluck and best editing for Denise Haratzis.

The visual effects on the crocodile chiller Rogue also won an award and production designer Paddy Reardon was honoured for his work on several films.

Matthew Saville was recognised for his direction of the Graham Kennedy telemovie The King and is also nominated in the feature film directing category tomorrow night (Thursday) for Noise. Clubland (Cherie Nowlan), The Home Song Stories (Tony Ayres) and Romulus , My Father (Richard Roxburgh) are also in the running for best director.

Of these films, it is only Clubland that is not in the running for best film: the fourth nomination is instead Lucky Miles. The host of tonight's presentation was Academy Award winner Geoffrey Rush who will also do the honours again tomorrow.