The Black Balloon, Unfinished Sky, The Square and The Jammed all have a chance of winning best film and also the best direction category at this year's 50th Australian Film Institute (AFI) Awards.

It was announced today that family drama The Black Balloon, from debut director Elissa Down, was nominated 11 times, more than any other film. The unlikely love story Unfinished Sky, directed by Peter Duncan, has 10 nominations while The Square, director Nash Edgerton's debut feature and one of the few examples of Australian film noir, and director Dee McLachlan's tale of sex slavery, The Jammed, have seven nominations each.

All four films are also nominated in either the adapted or original screenplay categories -- alongside Hey Hey It's Esther Blueburger and All My Friends Are Leaving Brisbane -and have been named between two and four times in acting categories. The other films with nominated actors are Death Defying Acts, Bitter & Twisted and Black Water.

For several years the AFI has acknowledged the work of Australian actors abroad. This year those nominated include Eric Bana (The Other Boleyn Girl), Russell Crowe (American Gangster), Heath Ledger (The Dark Knight), Jack Thompson (Leatherheads), Cate Blanchett (Elizabeth: The Golden Age) and Nicole Kidman (The Golden Compass) as well as Judy Davis and Rachel Griffiths for their work on television dramas The Starter Wife and Brothers and Sisters, respectively.

The Jammed was the best film winner at last year's IF Awards but just missed the deadline for last year's AFIs, hence it seeming out of place in the line-up. It's distributor, John L Simpson of Titan View, is this year's recipient of the A$25,000 AFI Fellowship. He will use the money to research and develop systems and strategies for getting Australian films to communities without independent cinemas, which can then be used by other filmmakers. He will use Men's Group, a film he produced, as the test case.

'These communities don't have independent cinemas and might be the outer suburbs of big cities through to remote Aboriginal communities,' Simpson told 'The project is about laying down railway tracks for filmmakers who want to be proactive and show their films non-theatrically.'

The AFI Awards will be held on Saturday December 6 in Melbourne and televised on the Nine Network, although some awards will be awarded on the previous evening.

The nominees are:

L'Oreal Paris AFI Award for Best Film:

The Black Balloon. Tristram Miall

The Jammed. Dee McLachlan, Andrea Buck & Sally Ayre-Smith

The Square. Louise Smith

Unfinished Sky. Cathy Overett & Anton Smit

AFI Award for Best Direction

The Black Balloon. Elissa Down

The Jammed. Dee McLachlan

The Square. Nash Edgerton

Unfinished Sky. Peter Duncan

Macquarie AFI Award for Best Original Screenplay

The Black Balloon. Elissa Down & Jimmy The Exploder

Hey Hey It's Esther Blueburger. Cathy Randall

The Jammed. Dee McLachlan

The Square. Joel Edgerton & Matthew Dabner

Macquarie AFI Award for Best Adapted Screenplay

All My Friends Are Leaving Brisbane. Stephen Vagg

Unfinished Sky. Peter Duncan

AFI Award for Best Cinematography

The Black Balloon. Denson Baker ACS

Death Defying Acts. Haris Zambarloukos BSC

The Tender Hook. Geoffrey Simpson ACS

Unfinished Sky. Robert Humphreys ACS

AFI Award for Best Editing

The Black Balloon. Veronika Jenet ASE

Black Water. Rodrigo Balart

The Jammed. Dee McLachlan & Anne Carter

Unfinished Sky. Suresh Ayyar ASE

AFI Award for Best Sound

The Black Balloon. Ben Osmo & Paul Pirola

Hey Hey It's Esther Blueburger. Liam Egan, Tony Murtagh, Phil Judd MPSE & Des Kenneally

The Tender Hook. Liam Egan, Tony Murtagh, Phil Judd MPSE & Gary Wilkins

Unfinished Sky. Andrew Plain, Annie Breslin & Will Ward

AFI Award for Best Original Music Score

The Black Balloon. Michael Yezerski

The Square. François Tetaz & Ben Lee

The Tender Hook. Chris Abrahams

Unfinished Sky. Antony Partos

AFI Award for Best Production Design

Children of the Silk Road. Steven Jones-Evans

Death Defying Acts. Gemma Jackson

The Tender Hook. Peter Baxter

Unfinished Sky. Laurie Faen

AFI Award for Best Costume Design

Children of the Silk Road. Wenyan Gao & Kym Barrett

Death Defying Acts. Susannah Buxton

Hey Hey It's Esther Blueburger. Shareen Beringer

The Tender Hook. Cappi Ireland

AFI Award for Best Lead Actor

Rhys Wakefield. The Black Balloon

Guy Pearce. Death Defying Acts

David Roberts. The Square

William McInnes. Unfinished Sky

AFI Award for Best Lead Actress

Noni Hazlehurst. Bitter & Twisted

Emma Lung. The Jammed

Veronica Sywak. The Jammed

Monic Hendrickx. Unfinished Sky

AFI Award for Best Supporting Actor

Luke Ford. The Black Balloon

Erik Thomson. The Black Balloon

Joel Edgerton. The Square

Anthony Hayes. The Square

AFI Award for Best Supporting Actress

Leeanna Walsman. Bitter & Twisted

Toni Collette. The Black Balloon

Maeve Dermody. Black Water

Saskia Burmeister. The Jammed

AFI International Award for Best Actor

Eric Bana. The Other Boleyn Girl

Russell Crowe. American Gangster

Heath Ledger. The Dark Knight

Jack Thompson. Leatherheads

AFI International Award for Best Actress

Cate Blanchett. Elizabeth: The Golden Age

Judy Davis. The Starter Wife. Network Ten

Rachel Griffiths. Brothers & Sisters. Seven Network

Nicole Kidman. The Golden Compass

L'Oreal Paris AFI Young Actor Award

Danielle Catanzariti. Hey Hey It's Esther Blueburger

Tom Green. The Ground Beneath

Saoirse Ronan. Death Defying Acts

Clarence John Ryan. September

AFI Visual Effects Award

Death Defying Acts. James Rogers

Double The Fist (Series 2). Doug Bayne, Adam MacGowan, Michael Blake & Bill McGuire. ABC

Gabriel. Matthew Graham & Steve Anderson

H2O - Just Add Water (Series 2). Barry Lanfranchi. Network Ten