Red Dog was the big winner at the annual IF Awards, held on Wednesday (16) at Luna Park in damp Sydney.
The mainstream, feel-good family film trotted off with best film for producers Nelson Woss and Julie Ryan, best direction for Kriv Stenders, best script for Daniel Taplitz, best actor for the film’s US star Josh Lucas, best cinematography for Geoffrey Hall and best editing for Cezary Skubiszewski.
The first prize of the night was the box office achievement award: Red Dog has now sold $21.4m (A$21.1m) in cinema tickets in Australia since Roadshow’s Aug 4 release – which roughly equates to a box office take of $200m in the US – and week after week remains in the top 20.
While he didn’t win an award in his own right, the kelpie Koko, who plays the title role and was adopted by Woss after principal photography finished, made a guest appearance. He was also the subject of ongoing references throughout the ceremony.
Woss made an on-air promise to his two-year-old daughter that Koko was her dog now because he had retired, and in a pre-recorded acceptance speech from a sound stage in Canada, Lucas said he was particularly pleased the award had not gone to his co-star.
Koko took the limelight during the film’s release because neither Lucas nor his human co-star Rachael Taylor were available.
Another non-Australian actor, Emily Watson, won the acting category for her role in the UK-Australian co-production Oranges & Sunshine, which also earned Melinda Doring the award for production design.
The team behind Mad Bastards, including director Brendan Fletcher, won the independent spirit award for the dramatic story ,developed over a long period using the real experiences of real people from Australia’s Kimberley region.
The only other films to get a look-in were Snowtown, which earned Veronika Jenet the award for best editing, and Legend Of The Guardians: The Owls Of Ga’Hoole, which shone a spotlight on the sound team of Wayne Pashley, Polly McKinnon, Derryn Pasquill and Fabian Sanjurjo.
Film critics Margaret Pomeranz and David Stratton, who have had a television show together for many years, won the award for living legends, and the Dungog Film Festival, which only shows Australian films, won the award for best film festival.
Rachel Perkins, a filmmaker who has done an enormous amount to support indigenous production, received an award for her contribution to television, while Anthony Maras, who made the highly acclaimed short film The Palace In Cyprus, won the rising talent award.
Other winners on the night were:
Magicby Olivia Newton-John and WACCI, director Dan Murphy, producer WACCI
Umoja: No Men Allowed, director Elizabeth Tadic, producer Elizabeth Tadic, Selene Alcock
When The Wind Changes, director Alethea Jones, producers Richard Davies, Veeran Naran
The Missing Key, director Jonathan Nix, producer Anna McFarlane, Garth Nix
Out of the Box IF Award (for upcoming actors)