Australia's third biggest local hit of 2000, teen flick Looking For Alibrandi, scooped five awards including best film at the AFI (Australian Film Institute) Awards on Saturday night (Nov 18).
The other four awards went to school teacher Melina Marchetta's adapted script, lead actress Pia Miranda, supporting actress Greta Scacchi and Martin Connor for editing. Producer Robyn Kershaw accepted the best film honour.
As widely expected, Eric Bana won best actor for his title role in Chopper. The film also walked away with awards for best director (Andrew Dominik) and best supporting actor (Simon Lyndon).
The original screenplay award went to Allanah Zisterman and Stavros Katzantzidis for Russian Doll, and Bootmen won most of the major technical awards including cinematography, sound, production design, costume design and music.
The award for best foreign film went to American Beauty. This and the Australian best film award is judged by the AFI's general membership while all of the others are judged by the industry. The Raymond Longford award for services to the industry went to Anthony Buckley who is well-known for his efforts to preserve Australia's film history. He is also a producer with credits including Caddie (1975), Bliss (1985) and documentary Celluloid Heroes, about the film industry.
The Byron Kennedy Award was shared by Matt Wheeldon and Gary Doust, for launching the film discussion venue Popcorn Taxi a year ago, and Stephen Jenner and David Barda for the launch of If Magazine four years ago.
The AFI Awards, now known as The Lovelies, did not have the star power of last year but there was ample political content. Award winners expressed dissatisfaction at changes at public broadcaster the ABC, the commercial networks' predilection for reality programming over drama, and the level of government assistance for the industry.
The Diplomat, about Nobel Peace Prize winner Jose Ramos Horta's struggle for East Timor's independence, earned producers Sally Browning and Wilson da Silva the honour of best documentary and Tom Zubrycki the best documentary director. The biggest hit of the year The Dish, was not entered, and the second biggest, The Wogboy, went home empty-handed. Television and shorts were also honoured on the night.