The Home Song Stories was the stand-out film when the Inside Film Awards announced their nominees yesterday (Oct 10). Only in the editing category did it miss out.

Those named in relation to the film include producers Liz Watts and Michael McMahon for best film, director Tony Ayres, actress Joan Chen and schoolboy actor Joel Lok. The film is a very personal one for Ayres: it is based on his relationship with his mother in the years between the family's arrival in Australia from China and her death.

The two other best film nominees are the privately financed The Jammed, which almost didn't make it into cinemas because of its tough theme of sex slavery, and Lucky Miles. The other two best director nominees are Matt Saville for Noise and Kriv Stenders for Boxing Day.

In the acting categories Lok will have to beat Richard Green in Boxing Day and Brendan Cowell in Noise to go home with the prize. Chen is up against Brenda Blethyn in Clubland and newcomer Veronica Sywak in The Jammed.

Despite the broad spread of films named in the nominations, it has been a lacklustre year for Australia in commercial terms: not one picture released this year to date has sold more than $3m in tickets at the box office whereas last year there were six.

Those films that have tried to aim broader than an arthouse audience have fallen short and none of the specialist titles have managed to crossover into multiplexes. This is an ongoing problem for Australia and one the government hopes will be solved with the new financing regime.

The Inside Film Awards will be presented on November 16 and are decided through public voting. The long-standing AFI (Australian Film Institute) Awards announce their nominees in two weeks. Various organisations, including the body representing film critics, are also gearing up to make their choices.