Fifteen films are in the running for the Australian Film Institute Awards, which will be held in Melbourne on December 5 and 6, with Oscar-winner Geoffrey Rush hosting.

The films that have already been released are Burke & Wills, Clubland, Gone, Irresistible, Like Minds, Lucky Miles, Noise, Razzle Dazzle, Romulus, My Father and West.

The Bet, Dr Plonk, The Final Winter, The Home Song Stories and Rogue are yet to find their way into cinemas. Perhaps they will give the country a box office boost.

It has been a lack lustre year at the box office for Australian films with Romulus, starring Eric Bana, the clear leader with a box office gross of $2.4m. It is still in cinemas and has been in the top 20 chart for nine weeks.

The big box office exception has been Happy Feet, which released on Dec 26. It was eligible but, in keeping with a long tradition set for big-budget films, it was not entered.

The winning films of the last five years have been Ten Canoes, Look Both Ways, Somersault, Japanese Story and Rabbit-Proof Fence.

Former Melbourne International Film Festival executive director James Hewison is now chief executive of the AFI.