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'Samson & Delilah': Australian Film Institute Awards

Rowan McNamara in Samson and Delilah

Written and directed by Warwick Thornton, and starring newcomers Rowan McNamara (above) and Marissa Gibson, Samson & Delilah was the big winner at the 2009 Australian Film Institute Awards held in Melbourne in two consecutive evenings, Fri. (“industry” categories) and Sat. (top awards). Thornton's feature-film debut bagged a total of 8 awards, including best picture, best director, best original screenplay, best cinematography (also Thornton), and two awards for newcomers McNamara and Gibson.

Winner of the Camera d'Or at the 2009 Cannes Film Festival and the best film award at the 2009 Asia-Pacific Screen Awards, in addition to being Australia's submission for the 2010 best foreign-language film Academy Award, Samson & Delilah is a coming-of-age drama set in a remote Aboriginal community in Central Australia, where two teenagers attempt to cope with a life of violence, poverty, and substance abuse. After tragedy strikes, the young couple set out on their own, facing all sorts of obstacles along the way.

Samson & Delilah is the second film focusing on Australia's Aborigines to win the AFI's top prize in the last four years. In 2006, Rolf de Heer and Peter Djigirr's Ten Canoes, set among Aborigines of long ago, also came out victorious.

Anthony LaPaglia in Balibo

Another major AFI winner was Robert Connolly's Balibo, winner of the best actor (Anthony LaPaglia, above), best supporting actor (Oscar Isaac), best adapted screenplay (Connolly, David Williamson), and best editing (Nick Meyers) awards. In this political drama, LaPaglia plays war correspondent Roger East, who traveled to East Timor in the mid-1970s to attempt to find five disappeared journalists.

Frances O'Connor in BlessedFrances O'Connor (right) was voted best actress for her portrayal of a distraught welfare-recipient mother in Ana Kokkinos' Blessed, while Rachel Griffiths was the best supporting actress for Beautiful Kate, actress-turned-director Rachel Ward's family drama about two siblings (Griffiths and Ben Mendelsohn) who share a deeply buried secret in their past.

The AFI International Award for Best Actor went to Russell Crowe for the box office disappointment State of Play. For her multiple impersonations in the made-for-television The United States of Tara, Toni Collette was the best actress in that particular category for Australians working abroad, whether in film or on TV.

Visual effects expert Nathan McGuinness, for his part, was given the International Award for Excellence in Filmmaking. McGuinness was cited for his work on five films: Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen, The Taking of Pelham 1 2 3, Terminator Salvation, The Unborn, and The Curious Case of Benjamin Button.

Hugh Jackman, Nicole Kidman in Australia

Winner of the highest-grossing film award, the local Nicole Kidman-Hugh Jackman blockbuster Australia also won three other awards: best production design, best costume design, and best visual effects.

Earlier this year, Geoffrey Rush was handed the Raymond Longford Award for his contribution to Australian cinema.

2009 Australian Film Institute Award nominations: Oct. 28, '09

2009 Australian Film Institute Award winners: Regent Theatre in Melbourne on Dec. 11 ("industry" categories) and Dec. 12 (top categories), 2009

Winner of the 2009 Camera d'Or at the Cannes Film Festival and Australia's submission for the 2010 best foreign-language film Academy Award, Warwick Thornton's feature-film debut, Samson & Delilah is a coming-of-age story set in a remote Aboriginal community in Central Australia, where two teenagers (best actor nominee Rowan McNamara and best actress nominee Marissa Gibson) must cope with a life of violence, poverty, and substance abuse. Eventually, the couple set out on their own, facing all sorts of problems along the way — though at least they have one another.

 

FEATURE FILM NOMINEES

AFI AWARD FOR BEST FILM
Balibo. John Maynard, Rebecca Williamson
Beautiful Kate. Leah Churchill-Brown, Bryan Brown
Blessed. Al Clark
Mao's Last Dancer. Jane Scott
Mary and Max. Melanie Coombs
Samson & Delilah. Kath Shelper

AFI AWARD FOR BEST DIRECTION
Balibo. Robert Connolly
Beautiful Kate. Rachel Ward
Mao's Last Dancer. Bruce Beresford
Samson & Delilah. Warwick Thornton

AFI AWARD FOR BEST LEAD ACTOR
Anthony LaPaglia. Balibo
Ben Mendelsohn. Beautiful Kate
Hugo Weaving. Last Ride
Rowan McNamara. Samson & Delilah

AFI AWARD FOR BEST LEAD ACTRESS
Sophie Lowe. Beautiful Kate
Frances O'Connor. Blessed
Sacha Horler. My Year Without Sex
Marissa Gibson. Samson & Delilah

AFI AWARD FOR BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR
Brandon Walters. Australia
Damon Gameau. Balibo
Oscar Isaac. Balibo
Bryan Brown. Beautiful Kate

AFI AWARD FOR BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS
Bea Viegas. Balibo
Maeve Dermody. Beautiful Kate
Rachel Griffiths. Beautiful Kate
Mitjili Gibson. Samson & Delilah

BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY
Cedar Boys. Serhat Caradee
Mary and Max. Adam Elliot
My Year Without Sex. Sarah Watt
Samson & Delilah. Warwick Thornton

BEST ADAPTED SCREENPLAY
Balibo. Robert Connolly, David Williamson
Beautiful Kate. Rachel Ward
Blessed. Andrew Bovell, Melissa Reeves, Patricia Cornelius, Christos Tsiolkas
Mao's Last Dancer. Jan Sardi

AFI AWARD FOR BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY
Balibo. Tristan Milani ACS
Beautiful Kate. Andrew Commis
Last Ride. Greig Fraser
Samson & Delilah. Warwick Thornton

AFI AWARD FOR BEST EDITING
Balibo. Nick Meyers ASE
Blessed. Jill Bilcock ACE, ASE
Mao's Last Dancer. Mark Warner
Samson & Delilah. Roland Gallois

AFI AWARD FOR BEST ORIGINAL MUSIC SCORE
Australia. David Hirschfelder, Felix Meagher, Baz Luhrmann, Angela Little
Balibo. Lisa Gerrard
Mao's Last Dancer. Christopher Gordon
Samson & Delilah. Warwick Thornton

AFI AWARD FOR BEST PRODUCTION DESIGN
Australia. Catherine Martin, Ian Gracie, Karen Murphy, Beverley Dunn
Balibo. Robert Cousins
Mao's Last Dancer. Herbert Pinter
Mary and Max. Adam Elliot

AFI AWARD FOR BEST COSTUME DESIGN
Australia. Catherine Martin, Eliza Godman
Balibo. Cappi Ireland
Lucky Country. Mariot Kerr
Mao's Last Dancer. Anna Borghesi

AFI AWARD FOR BEST SOUND
Australia. Andy Nelson, Anna Behlmer, Wayne Pashley MPSE, Guntis Sics
Balibo. Sam Petty, Emma Bortignon, Phil Heywood, Ann Aucote
Mao's Last Dancer. David Lee, Andrew Neil, Yulia Akerholt, Mark Franken, Roger Savage
Samson & Delilah. Liam Egan, David Tranter, Robert Sullivan, Tony Murtagh, Yulia Akerholt, Les Fiddess

AFI MEMBERS' CHOICE AWARD
Australia. Baz Luhrmann, G. Mac Brown, Catherine Knapman
Balibo. John Maynard, Rebecca Williamson
Beautiful Kate. Leah Churchill-Brown, Bryan Brown
Mao's Last Dancer. Jane Scott
Mary and Max. Melanie Coombs
Samson & Delilah. Kath Shelper

 

AFI INTERNATIONAL AWARD FOR BEST ACTOR
Russell Crowe. State of Play
Martin Henderson. House. Network Ten
Anthony LaPaglia. Without a Trace. Nine Network
Guy Pearce. Bedtime Stories

AFI INTERNATIONAL AWARD FOR BEST ACTRESS
Rose Byrne. Damages. Foxtel
Toni Collette. United States of Tara. ABC1
Melissa George. In Treatment. Foxtel
Mia Wasikowska. In Treatment. Foxtel

AFI YOUNG ACTOR AWARD
Brandon Walters. Australia
Sebastian Gregory. Beautiful
Tom Russell. Last Ride
Toby Wallace. Lucky Country
Marissa Gibson. Samson & Delilah
Rowan McNamara. Samson & Delilah

AFI VISUAL EFFECTS AWARD
Australia. Chris Godfrey, James E. Price, Andy Brown, Rob Duncan
Death of the Megabeasts. Matt Drummond, Mike Dunn
Plastic. Sandy Widyanata, Eric So, Matthew Mackereth, Christopher Jackson
Scorched. Bertrand Polivka, Soren Jensen. Nine Network

 

NON-FEATURE FILM NOMINEES

AFI AWARD FOR BEST FEATURE LENGTH DOCUMENTARY
Bastardy. Philippa Campey, Amiel Courtin-Wilson, Lynn-Maree Milburn, Andrew de Groot
The Choir. Chris Hilton, Michael Davie
Glass: a portrait of Philip in twelve parts. Scott Hicks, Susanne Preissler
Lionel. Lizzette Atkins

AFI AWARD FOR BEST DOCUMENTARY UNDER ONE HOUR
The Love Market. Shalom Almond. National Geographic
Salt. Michael Angus. ABC
Solo. Jennifer Peedom. ABC1
Tackling Peace. Marc Radomsky. Network Ten

AFI AWARD FOR BEST DOCUMENTARY SERIES
Beyond Kokoda. Stig Schnell, Shaun Gibbons. Foxtel
First Australians. Darren Dale, Rachel Perkins, Helen Panckhurst. SBS
Once Bitten. Beth Frey, Janette Howe. SBS
Voices From The Cape. David Selvarajah Vadiveloo, Anna Kaplan. ABC1

AFI AWARD FOR BEST DIRECTION IN A DOCUMENTARY
Bastardy. Amiel Courtin-Wilson
The Choir. Michael Davie
First Australians (Episode 4, There Is No Other Law). Rachel Perkins. SBS
The Love Market. Shalom Almond. National Geographic

AFI AWARD FOR BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY IN A DOCUMENTARY
Beyond Kokoda (Buying Time). Stig Schnell, Shaun Gibbons, Brett Murphy, Ben Nunney. Foxtel
Cracking the Colour Code (Episode 2, Making Colours). Ian Batt, Vincent Fooy. SBS
My Asian Heart. David Bradbury
Salt. Murray Fredericks. ABC

AFI AWARD FOR BEST EDITING IN A DOCUMENTARY
Bastardy. Bill Murphy, Jack Hutchings, Richard Lowenstein
Cracking the Colour Code (Episode 2, Making Colours). Lawrie Silvestrin. SBS
How Kevin Bacon Cured Cancer. Zen Rosenthal. ABC
Yes Madam, Sir. Megan Doneman, Annie Collins

AFI AWARD FOR BEST SOUND IN A DOCUMENTARY
The Choir. Sam Hayward, Phil Judd, Felicity Fox, Alli Heynes, Phil Vail, David White
Glass: a portrait of Philip in twelve parts. Stephen R. Smith, Peter Smith
Intangible Asset Number 82. Matthew Ferris, Michael Gissing, Andrew McGrath
Lionel. Nick Batterham, Keith Thomas, Cezary Skubiszewski

AFI AWARD FOR BEST SHORT ANIMATION
The Cat Piano. Jessica Brentnall, Eddie White, Ari Gibson
Chicken of God. Jodi Satya, Frank Woodley
The Not-So-Great Eugene Green. Melanie Brunt, Michael Hill
Reach. Luke Randall

AFI AWARD FOR BEST SHORT FICTION FILM
Burn. Anna Kaplan, David Selvarajah Vadiveloo
Liebermans In The Sky. Jessica Redenbach, Richard Vilensky
Miracle Fish. Drew Bailey, Luke Doolan
Water. Sarah Shaw, Corrie Jones

AFI AWARD FOR BEST SCREENPLAY IN A SHORT FILM
Boxer. Michael Latham
Liebermans In The Sky. Richard Vilensky
Miracle Fish. Luke Doolan
Water. Corrie Jones, Sarah Shaw, Ian Meadows

 

TELEVISION NOMINEES

AFI AWARD FOR BEST TELEVISION DRAMA SERIES
East West 101, Season 2. Kristine Wyld, Steve Knapman. SBS
Packed to the Rafters. Jo Porter. Seven Network
Satisfaction, Season 2. Andrew Walker, Roger Simpson. Showcase
Underbelly: A Tale of Two Cities. Greg Haddrick, Brenda Pam. Nine Network

AFI AWARD FOR BEST TELEFEATURE, MINI SERIES OR SHORT RUN SERIES
3 Acts of Murder. Sue Taylor. ABC1
False Witness. Greg Haddrick, Peter Andrikidis. UKTV
The Last Confession of Alexander Pearce. Nial Fulton. ABC1
Saved. Michael McMahon, Tony Ayres. SBS

AFI AWARD FOR BEST CHILDREN'S TELEVISION DRAMA
The Elephant Princess. Jonathan M. Shiff, Joanna Werner. Network Ten
Time Trackers. Sue Taylor. Seven Network

AFI AWARD FOR BEST CHILDREN'S TELEVISION ANIMATION
The Adventures of Charlotte and Henry. Paige Livingston. Seven Network
Classic Tales. Noel Price. ABC
Figaro Pho. Luke Jurevicius. ABC1
Zeke's Pad. Avrill Stark, Delna Bhesania, Liz Scully, Leonard Terhoch. Seven Network

AFI AWARD FOR BEST TELEVISION COMEDY SERIES
Chandon Pictures. Rob Carlton. Movie Network
Lawrence Leung's Choose Your Own Adventure. Nathan Earl, Andy Nehl. ABC1
Review With Myles Barlow. Dean Bates. ABC
Very Small Business. Wayne Hope, Robyn Butler. ABC1

AFI AWARD FOR BEST LIGHT ENTERTAINMENT TELEVISION SERIES
The Gruen Transfer, Series 2. Andrew Denton, Anita Jacoby, Jon Casimir, Debbie Cuell. ABC
RocKwiz. Brian Nankervis, Ken Connor, Peter Bain-Hogg, Joe Connor. SBS
Spicks and Specks. Anthony Watt. ABC

AFI AWARD FOR BEST DIRECTION IN TELEVISION
East West 101, Season 2 (Episode 13, Atonement) Peter Andrikidis. SBS
False Witness (Episode 1) Peter Andrikidis. UKTV
Review With Myles Barlow (Episode 1) Trent O'Donnell. ABC
Underbelly: A Tale of Two Cities (Episode 11, The Brotherhood) Grant Brown. Nine Network

AFI AWARD FOR BEST LEAD ACTOR IN A TELEVISION DRAMA
Robert Menzies. 3 Acts of Murder. ABC1
Don Hany. East West 101, Season 2. SBS
Dougray Scott. False Witness. UKTV
Roy Billing. Underbelly: A Tale of Two Cities. Nine Network

AFI AWARD FOR BEST LEAD ACTRESS IN A TELEVISION DRAMA
Susie Porter. East West 101, Season 2. SBS
Rachael Blake. False Witness. UKTV
Rebecca Gibney. Packed to the Rafters. Seven Network
Asher Keddie. Underbelly: A Tale of Two Cities. Nine Network

AFI AWARD FOR BEST GUEST OR SUPPORTING ACTOR IN A TELEVISION DRAMA
Bille Brown. 3 Acts of Murder. ABC1
Jeremy Lindsay Taylor. False Witness (Episode 2). UKTV
Richard Roxburgh. False Witness (Episode 2). UKTV
Damian de Montemas. Underbelly: A Tale of Two Cities (Episode 11, The Brotherhood). Nine Network

AFI AWARD FOR BEST GUEST OR SUPPORTING ACTRESS IN A TELEVISION DRAMA
Anni Finsterer. 3 Acts of Murder. ABC1
Claire Forlani. False Witness (Episode 1). UKTV
Kathryn Beck. Scorched. Nine Network
Kate Ritchie. Underbelly: A Tale of Two Cities (Episode 4, Business As Usual). Nine Network

AFI AWARD FOR BEST PERFORMANCE IN A TELEVISION COMEDY
Robyn Butler. The Librarians, Series 2. ABC
Phil Lloyd. Review With Myles Barlow. ABC
Kim Gyngell. Very Small Business. ABC1
Wayne Hope. Very Small Business. ABC1

AFI AWARD FOR BEST SCREENPLAY IN TELEVISION
30 Seconds (Episode 4, Invisible Fault Lines) Tim Bullock, Justin Drape, Scott Nowell. Foxtel
East West 101, Season 2 (Episode 13, Atonement) Michael Miller, Kristen Dunphy. SBS
Review With Myles Barlow (Episode 1) Trent O'Donnell, Phil Lloyd. ABC
Underbelly: A Tale of Two Cities (Episode 11, The Brotherhood) Kris Mrksa. Nine Network


         
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