Period drama Rabbit-Proof Fence, directed by Phillip Noyce (pictured), has dominated the AFI (Australian Film Institute) Award nominations with ten nods,.

But with only one less is first-time director Tony Ayres' Walking On Water, a highly contemporary story about the effect of a young man's death on his family and friends. Walking On Water is absent from the best film category, however, leaving Rabbit-Proof Fence to fight it out with Australian Rules, Beneath Clouds and The Tracker, each of which have six nominations.

Rabbit-Proof Fence originator Christine Olsen says the nominations signify that Australia has grown up because they sell themselves not only as indigenous films but also as good stories. In her film three little girls find their way home across 1,500 miles of desert, in Australian Rules a 16-year-old has to struggle to live his own life because of the family and community he was born into, and in Beneath Clouds two teenagers search for meaning.

These five films also dominated the key categories in the Australian Film Critics Circle and the IF Awards, both of which announced their nominations in the last fortnight.

Rabbit-Proof Fence is the highest grossing Australian film of the year so far with A$7.4m - but cost at least three times more than each of the others, neither of which have taken more than A$600,000 at the box office.

The awards are due to be held on December 7 and will be telecast on Network Ten. The nominations for best foreign film are Amelie, A Beautiful Mind, Gosford Park and The Lord Of The Rings:The Fellowship Of The Ring.

The AFI nominations in full

Emirates AFI Award For Film
Australian Rules -- Mark Lazarus
Beneath Clouds -- Teresa-Jayne Hanlon
Rabbit-Proof Fence -- Phillip Noyce, Christine Olsen, John Winter
The Tracker -- Rolf de Heer, Julie Ryan

Empire AFI Award For Direction
Beneath Clouds -- Ivan Sen
Rabbit-Proof Fence -- Phillip Noyce
The Tracker -- Rolf de Heer
Walking On Water -- Tony Ayres

Harper's Bazaar AFI Award For Actress In A Leading Role
Judy Davis -- Swimming Upstream
Rachel Griffiths -- The Hard Word
Dannielle Hall -- Beneath Clouds
Maria Theodorakis -- Walking On Water

Jan Logan AFI Award For Actress In A Supporting Role
Judi Farr -- Walking On Water
Celia Ireland -- Australian Rules
Anna Lise Phillips -- Envy
Maya Stange -- Garage Days

Showtime AFI Award For Actor In A Leading Role
Vince Colosimo -- Walking On Water
David Gulpilil -- The Tracker
Geoffrey Rush -- Swimming Upstream
David Wenham -- Molokai: The Story Of Father Damien

Beyond AFI Award For Actor In A Supporting Role
Luke Carroll -- Australian Rules
Nathaniel Dean -- Walking On Water
Joel Edgerton -- The Hard Word
David Gulpilil -- Rabbit-Proof Fence

Foreign Film
Amelie -- Claudie Ossard
A Beautiful Mind -- Brian Grazer, Ron Howard
Gosford Park -- Robert Altman, Bob Balaban, David Levy
The Lord Of the Rings: The Fellowship Of The Ring -- Barrie M. Osborne, Peter Jackson, Fran Walsh, Tim Sanders

Beneath Clouds -- Allan Collins
Dirty Deeds -- Geoffrey Hall ACS
Rabbit-Proof Fence -- Christopher Doyle
The Tracker -- Ian Jones ACS

Original Music Score
Australian Rules -- Mick Harvey
Beneath Clouds -- Alister Spence, Ivan Sen
Rabbit-Proof Fence -- Peter Gabriel
Walking On Water -- Antony Partos

Original Screenplay
Beneath Clouds -- Ivan Sen
The Man Who Sued God -- Don Watson
The Tracker -- Rolf de Heer
Walking On Water -- Roger Monk

Screenplay Adapted From Another Source
Australian Rules -- Phillip Gwynne, Paul Goldman
Molokai: The Story Of Father Damien -- John Briley
Rabbit-Proof Fence -- Christine Olsen
Swimming Upstream -- Anthony Fingleto

Australian Rules -- Phil Judd MPSE, Julius Chan MPSE, Liam Egan, Jenny T. Ward
Garage Days -- Peter Grace, Tony Vaccher, Phil Winters, Simon Leadley
Rabbit-Proof Fence -- Bronwyn Murphy, Craig Carter, Ricky Edwards, John Penders
Walking On Water -- Liam Egan, Robert Sullivan, Delia McCarthy, Jenny T. Ward

Dirty Deeds -- Mark Perry
Rabbit-Proof Fence -- Veronika Jenet, John Scott
The Tracker -- Tania Nehme
Walking On Water -- Reva Childs

Production Design
Dirty Deeds -- Chris Kennedy
Garage Days -- Michael Philips
Rabbit-Proof Fence -- Roger Ford
Swimming Upstream -- Roger Ford

Costume Design
Dirty Deeds -- Tess Schofield
Rabbit-Proof Fence -- Roger Ford
Swimming Upstream -- Angus Strathie
WillFull -- George Liddle