AFI Awards: Autism & Human Trafficking Movies Are Top Winners + IDA Best Feature Documentary Tie

The Black Balloon Rhys Wakefield Gemma Ward. Autism movie AFI Awards Best FilmThe Black Balloon with Rhys Wakefield and Gemma Ward. The winner of six Australian Film Institute (AFI) Awards, including Best Film, Best Director, and Best Original Screenplay, writer-director Elissa Down's first feature film tackles the issue of autism. Adolescent Rhys Wakefield has trouble dealing with his autistic younger brother (Best Supporting Actor winner Luke Ford), as so does their troubled, once-again-pregnant mother (Best Supporting Actress winner Toni Collette). Gemma Ward is Wakefield's romantic interest, who attempts to help out both brothers cope with their respective challenges.

'The Black Balloon' & 'The Unfinished Sky' are AFI Awards' big winners

Two socially conscious efforts were the top winners at the 2008 Australian Film Institute (AFI) Awards. Elissa Down's feature film debut The Black Balloon and Peter Duncan's Unfinished Sky won six awards each. The Black Balloon, however, had the edge, as it topped the Best Film and Best Director categories.

Revolving around the difficulties facing a teenager (Rhys Wakefield) whose younger brother (Luke Ford) is autistic, the comedy-drama The Black Balloon also won AFI Awards for Best Original Screenplay (Elissa Down & Jimmy Jack), Best Supporting Actress (Toni Collette), Best Supporting Actor (Luke Ford), and Best Film Editing (Veronika Jenet).

Gemma Ward plays Wakefield's romantic interest, who attempts to help the two brothers deal with their respective challenges.

Monic Hendrickx & William McInnes top lead acting categories

Unfinished Sky topped the following categories: Best Actress (Monic Hendrickx), Best Actor (William McInnes), Best Adapted Screenplay (Peter Duncan), Best Cinematography (Robert Humphreys), Best Original Music Score (Antony Partos), and Best Sound (Andrew Plain, Anne Breslin, William Ward).

Based on the 1998 Dutch release The Polish Bride / De Poolse bruid, Peter Duncan's romantic drama chronicles the relationship between an Outback sheep farmer (McInnes) and an Afghan refugee (Hendrickx) who, it turns out, is the victim of a human trafficking gang.

Directed by Karim Traïdia from Kees van der Hulst's screenplay, The Polish Bride was both a Golden Globe Best Foreign Language Film nominee and The Netherlands' submission for the Academy Awards. North Brabant-born Monic Hendrickx had the title role.

See below the full list of this year's AFI Award winners and nominees.

Australian Film Institute (AFI) Awards

2008 Australian Film Institute (AFI) Award nominations: Oct. 29. The AFI winners were announced on Dec. 5 (“industry” categories) and Dec. 6 (top categories).

Feature Films

Best Film
* The Black Balloon, Tristram Miall.
The Jammed, Dee McLachlan, Andrea Buck & Sally Ayre-Smith.
The Square, Louise Smith.
Unfinished Sky, Cathy Overett & Anton Smit.

Best Director
* The Black Balloon, Elissa Down.
The Jammed, Dee McLachlan.
The Square, Nash Edgerton.
Unfinished Sky, Peter Duncan.

Best Actor
Rhys Wakefield, The Black Balloon.
Guy Pearce, Death Defying Acts.
David Roberts, The Square.
* William McInnes, Unfinished Sky.

Best Actress
Noni Hazlehurst, Bitter & Twisted.
Emma Lung, The Jammed.
Veronica Sywak, The Jammed.
* Monic Hendrickx, Unfinished Sky.

Best Supporting Actor
* Luke Ford, The Black Balloon.
Erik Thomson, The Black Balloon.
Joel Edgerton, The Square.
Anthony Hayes, The Square.

Best Supporting Actress
Leeanna Walsman, Bitter & Twisted.
* Toni Collette, The Black Balloon.
Maeve Dermody, Black Water.
Saskia Burmeister, The Jammed.

Best Original Screenplay
* The Black Balloon, Elissa Down & Jimmy The Exploder.
Hey Hey It's Esther Blueburger, Cathy Randall.
The Jammed, Dee McLachlan.
The Square, Joel Edgerton & Matthew Dabner.

Best Adapted Screenplay
All My Friends Are Leaving Brisbane, Stephen Vagg.
* Unfinished Sky, Peter Duncan.

Best Cinematography
The Black Balloon, Denson Baker.
Death Defying Acts, Haris Zambarloukos.
The Tender Hook, Geoffrey Simpson.
* Unfinished Sky, Robert Humphreys.

Best Editing
* The Black Balloon, Veronika Jenet.
Black Water, Rodrigo Balart.
The Jammed, Dee McLachlan & Anne Carter.
Unfinished Sky, Suresh Ayyar.

Best Original Music Score
The Black Balloon, Michael Yezerski.
The Square, François Tétaz & Ben Lee.
The Tender Hook, Chris Abrahams.
* Unfinished Sky, Antony Partos.

Best Production Design
Children of the Silk Road, Steven Jones-Evans.
* Death Defying Acts, Gemma Jackson.
The Tender Hook, Peter Baxter.
Unfinished Sky, Laurie Faen.

Best Costume Design
Children of the Silk Road, Wenyan Gao & Kym Barrett.
Death Defying Acts, Susannah Buxton.
Hey Hey It's Esther Blueburger, Shareen Beringer.
* The Tender Hook, Cappi Ireland.

Best Sound
The Black Balloon, Ben Osmo & Paul Pirola.
Hey Hey It's Esther Blueburger, Liam Egan, Tony Murtagh, Phil Judd & Des Kenneally.
The Tender Hook, Liam Egan, Tony Murtagh, Phil Judd & Gary Wilkins.
* Unfinished Sky, Andrew Plain, Annie Breslin & Will Ward.


International Awards

AFI International Award for Best Actor
Eric Bana, The Other Boleyn Girl.
Russell Crowe, American Gangster.
* Heath Ledger, The Dark Knight.
Jack Thompson, Leatherheads.

AFI International Award for Best Actress
* Cate Blanchett, Elizabeth: The Golden Age.
Judy Davis, The Starter Wife.
Rachel Griffiths, Brothers & Sisters.
Nicole Kidman, The Golden Compass.

AFI Young Actor Award
* Danielle Catanzariti, Hey Hey It's Esther Blueburger.
Tom Green, The Ground Beneath.
Saoirse Ronan, Death Defying Acts.
Clarence John Ryan, September.

AFI Visual Effects Award
Death Defying Acts, James Rogers.
Double The Fist (Series 2), Doug Bayne, Adam MacGowan, Michael Blake & Bill McGuire.
Gabriel, Matthew Graham & Steve Anderson.
* H2O - Just Add Water (Series 2), Barry Lanfranchi.

AFI International Award for Excellence in Filmmaking
Peter James ACS, ASC.

Byron Kennedy Award
Chris Lilley.

AFI Raymond Longford Award
Dione Gilmour.

Australia's Favorite Film
The Castle.

News Limited Readers' Choice Award
Hugh Jackman.


Television (partial list)

Best Telefeature, Mini Series or Short Run Series
Bed of Roses, Stephen Luby & Mark Ruse.
* East West 101, Steve Knapman & Kris Wyld.
Rain Shadow, Gus Howard.
Valentines Day, Tony Wright.

Best Television Comedy Series
Chandon Pictures, Rob Carlton.
The Hollowmen, Santo Cilauro, Tom Gleisner & Rob Sitch.
The Librarians, Wayne Hope & Robyn Butler.
* Summer Heights High, Chris Lilley & Laura Waters.

Best Television Drama Series
City Homicide (Series 2), MaryAnne Carroll.
Rush, John Edwards & Mimi Butler.
Satisfaction, Andrew Walker & Roger Simpson.
* Underbelly, Greg Haddrick & Brenda Pam.

Best Actor in a Television Drama
Don Hany, East West 101.
William McInnes, East West 101.
Callan Mulvey, Rush.
* Gyton Grantley, Underbelly.

Best Actress in a Television Drama
Phoebe Tonkin, H2O - Just Add Water (Series 2).
Diana Glenn, Satisfaction.
Alison Whyte, Satisfaction.
* Kat Stewart, Underbelly.

Best Guest or Supporting Actor in a Television Drama
Gary Files, Dogstar (Episode 26).
Taffy Hany, East West 101 (Episode 1, The Enemy Within).
Vince Colosimo, Underbelly (Episode 2, The Sorcerer's Apprentice).
* Damian Walshe-Howling, Underbelly (Episode 7, Wise Monkeys).

Best Guest or Supporting Actress in a Television Drama
Hanna Mangan-Lawrence, Bed of Roses (Episode 1, Not Worth a Cent).
Amanda Muggleton, City Homicide (Series 1: Episode 3, Lie Down With Dogs).
Brittany Byrnes, H2O - Just Add Water (Series 2: Episode 25, Sea Change).
* Madeleine West, Underbelly (Episode 7, Wise Monkeys).

Best Performance in a Television Comedy
Rob Carlton, Chandon Pictures.
Rob Sitch, The Hollowmen.
Robyn Butler, The Librarians.
* Chris Lilley, Summer Heights High.

Outstanding Achievement in Television Screen Craft
Steve Evans. Editing - Underbelly.


Non-Feature Nominees

Best Documentary
Beyond Our Ken, Luke Walker.
* Not Quite Hollywood, Craig Griffin & Michael Lynch.
The Oasis, Ian Darling.
Rare Chicken Rescue, Vickie Gest & Randall Wood.

Best Direction in a Documentary
Beyond Our Ken, Melissa Maclean & Luke Walker.
* The Oasis, Ian Darling & Sascha Ettinger Epstein.
Rachel: A Perfect Life, Fiona Cochrane.
Rare Chicken Rescue, Randall Wood.

Best Cinematography in a Documentary
* A Northern Town, Andrew Commis & Rachel Landers.
Bomb Harvest, Kim Mordaunt.
NIGHT, Laurie McInnes.
Rare Chicken Rescue, Randall Wood.

Best Editing in a Documentary
Not Quite Hollywood, Jamie Blanks, Sara Edwards & Mark Hartley.
* The Oasis, Sally Fryer.
Rare Chicken Rescue, Scott Walton.
The Siege. Stewart Young ASE.

Best Sound in a Documentary
Fairweather Man, Ben Crane, Michael Gissing, Guy Gross & Mike Jones.
The Oasis, Felicity Fox & Michael Gissing.
* Rare Chicken Rescue, Brett Aplin, Greg Docwra, John Willsteed & David White.
The Siege, Ian McLoughlin, Antony Partos & David White.

Best Short Animation
Chainsaw, Fiona Cochrane & Dennis Tupicoff.
* Dog With Electric Collar, Steve Baker & Damon Escott.
Mutt, Beth Frey & Glen Hunwick.
Paper City Architects, Daniel Agdag.

Best Short Fiction Film
fOUR, Zyra McAuliffe & Erin White.
* Jerrycan, Stuart Parkyn & Julius Avery.
The Ground Beneath, Kristina Ceyton & Rene Hernandez.
My Rabbit Hoppy, Anthony Lucas.

Best Screenplay in a Short Film
296 Smith Street, John Evagora.
Chainsaw, Dennis Tupicoff.
fOUR, Erin White.
* The Ground Beneath, Rene Hernandez.

Outstanding Achievement in Short Film Screen Craft
Xanthe Highfield. Production Design - fOUR.

Waltz with Bashir Best Documentary: Ari Folman autobiographical animation re: war in LebanonWaltz with Bashir was the Best Feature Documentary co-winner – with Man on Wire – at the International Documentary Association Awards. Directed by Ari Folman, the autobiographical animated documentary offers a reenactment of his experiences as a soldier during the 1982 Israel-Lebanon War.

International Documentary Association Awards: 'Man on Wire' & 'Waltz with Bashir' tie for Best Feature Documentary

Critics' fave Man on Wire and Los Angeles Film Critics Association Best Animated Feature* Waltz with Bashir tied for the International Documentary Association's Best Feature Documentary award.

Directed by James Marsh, Man on Wire depicts Philippe Petit's 1974 high-wire walk between the Twin Towers of New York City's World Trade Center. Ari Folman's autobiographical Waltz with Bashir recounts his experiences as a soldier during the 1982 Israel-Lebanon War.

The Best Short Documentary was Amanda Micheli and Isabel Vega's La Corona, which chronicles the behind-the-scenes preparations of those vying for the crown (the titular corona) in the annual beauty pageant at a women's prison in Bogotá.

Also of note, veteran filmmaker Werner Herzog, among whose documentary features are Grizzly Man and Encounters at the End of the World, will receive the Career Achievement Award.

* Curiously, while Waltz with Bashir was the Los Angeles Film Critics' Best Animated Feature, their Best Picture was Andrew Stanton's WALL-E – which also happens to be an animated feature.

International Documentary Association Awards

2008 International Documentary Association winners: Dec. 06.

Feature Documentary (tie)

Kassim The Dream.
Director/Producer: Kief Davidson.
Producer: Liz Silver.

* Man on Wire.
Director: James Marsh.
Producer: Simon Chinn.

Stranded: I've come from a plane that crashed in the mountains.
Director: Gonzalo Arijón.
Producer: Mark Silvera.

* Waltz with Bashir.
Director/Producer: Ari Folman.
Producers: Yael Nahlieli, Serge Lalou, Gerhard Meixner, Roman Paul.

Young @ Heart.
Director: Stephen Walker.
Producer: Sally George.

Short Documentary

Kick Like A Girl.
Director/Producer: Jenny Mackenzie.
Producers: Geralyn White Dreyfous, Jennifer Jordan.

Redemption Stone.
Director/Producer: Tom Dziedzic.

* La Corona.
Directors/Producers: Amanda Micheli, Isabel Vega.

Tongzhi in Love.
Director: Ruby Yang.
Producer: Thomas Lennon.

Smile Pinki.
Director/Producer: Megan Mylan.

Continuing Series Award

American Masters.
Susan Lacy, executive producer.
Prudence Glass, series producer.

Episodes Submitted:
Good Ol' Charles Schulz
(David Van Taylor, dir.; Ali Pomeroy, prod.).
Pete Seeger: The Power of Song
(Jim Brown, dir./prod.; Michael Cohl, William Eigen, prods.).
David Hockney: The Colors of Music
(Maryte Kavaliauskas, Seth Schneidman, dirs.; Chntal Bernheim, prod.).
Les Paul: Chasing Sound
 (John Paulson, dir.; James Arntz, prod.).

Paula S. Apsell, senior executive producer.
WGBH Science Unit, PBS.

Episodes Submitted:
Car of The Future
(Joseph Seamans, dir./prod.; Janet Driscoll Smith, prod.).
Ape Genius
(John Rubin, dir./prod.).
Secrets of the Parthenon
 (Gary Glassman, prod.).

* This American Life.
Created By Ira Glass/Chicago Public Radio.
Chris Wilcha, director, co-executive producer.
Jane Feltes, Sarah Koenig, Lisa Pollak, Robyn Semien, Alissa Shipp, Nancy Updike, Kevin Vargas producers.

Episodes Submitted:
Two Wars.
Going Down In History.
John Smith

Wide Angle: Season 6.
Pamela Hogan, executive producer.
Nina Chaudry, senior producer.
Thirteen/WNET New York, PBS.

Episodes Submitted:
Dishing Democracy
 (Bregtje van der Haak, dir.; Femke Wolting.
Bruno Felix, prods.).
Brazil in Black & White
 (Adam Stepan, dir./prod.).
The People's Court
 (Bruno Sorrentino, dir.; Maggie Still, prod.).
Victory Is Your Duty
 (Andrew Lang, dir.; Mandy Chang, prod.).

Limited Series Award

CNN Presents: God's Warriors.
Christiane Amanpour, Kathy Slobogin, Andy Segal, Michael Mocklar, Ken Shiffman, Cliff Hackel, Dave Timko, Brian Rokus, Jen Christensen, Julie O'Neill, Jody Gottlieb.

The Jewish Americans.
David Grubin, Dalton Delan, Jeff Bieber, Jay Sanderson, Stephen Segaller.

* Sin City Law.
Denis Poncet, Jean-Xavier de Lestrade, Remy Burkel.

The War.
Ken Burns, Lynn Novick, Sarah Botstein.

ABCNews Video Source Award

American Idealist: The Story of Sargent Shriver.
Bruce Orenstein.

The Brothers Warner.
Cass Warner Sperling.

Luis Lopez, Trisha Ziff.

A Day Late in Oakland.
Zachary Stauffer.

Get Collins.
Steve Carson.

The Judge and the General.
Elizabeth Farnsworth, Patricio Lanfranco.

The King of South Shields.
Tina Gharavi, Craig Wilson.

Les Paul: Chasing Sound.
John Paulson, James Arntz.

The Passionate Eye - The Putin System.
Jean-Michel Carré, Jill Emery.

Pray The Devil Back to Hell.
Gini Reticker, Abigail Disney.

Roman Polanski: Wanted and Desired.
Marina Zenovich, Jeffrey Levy-Hinte, Lila Yacoub.

Trouble the Water.
Tia Lessin, Carl Deal.

* War Child.
C. Karim Chrobog, Afshin Molava.

IDA/Alan Ett Music Documentary Award

American Harmony.
Aengus James, Colin King Miller.

Heavy Load.
Jerry Rothwell, Al Morrow, Jonny Persey.

La Paloma.
Sigrid Faltin, Cédric Bonin.

The Wrecking Crew.
Denny Tedesco, Suzie Greene Tedesco, Jon Leonoudakis, Mitchell Linden, Claire Scanlon.

* Young @ Heart.
Stephen Walker, Sally George.

Pare Lorentz Award

* Burning the Future: Coal in America.
David Novack, Alexis Zoullas.

CNN Presents: God's Warriors.
Christiane Amanpour, Kathy Slobogin, Andy Segal, Michael Mocklar, Ken Shiffman, Cliff Hackel, Dave Timko, Brian Rokus, Jen Christensen, Julie O'Neill, Jody Gottlieb.

Daughters of the Revolution.
Aeyliya Hussain.

Garbage Warrior (“Pare Lorentz Award – Honorable Mention”).
Oliver Hodge, Rachel Wexler, Patrick Wilson.

La Vida Loca.
Christian Poveda, Carole Solive, Luis Bellaba, Emilio Maillé, Gustavo Angel.

NOVA: Judgment Day: Intelligent Design on Trial.
Gary Johnstone, Joseph McMaster, Vanessa Tovell.

Pray the Devil Back to Hell.
Gini Reticker, Abigail Disney.

Saving Luna.
Michael Parfit, Suzanne Chisholm.

Standard Operating Procedure.
Errol Morris, Julie Bilson Ahlberg.

War Child.
Karim Chrobog, Afshin Molavi.

IDA/David L. Wolper Student Documentary Award

* As We Forgive.
Laura Waters Hinson.

A Day Late in Oakland.
Zachary Stauffer.

Jesse's Dad.
Boaz Dvir, Rebecca Goldman.

KURM RADIO: The Soapbox of the Air.
Kelly Millar, Hayot Tuychiev, Nikki Wise.

Carola Mamberto.

Audience Award
Food Fight, Dir.: Chris Taylor.

Career Achievement Award
Werner Herzog.

Pioneer Award
Rob Epstein.

Preservation & Scholarship Award
Marina Goldovskaya.

Avid Excellence in Editing Award
Sam Pollard.

Jacqueline Donnet Emerging Filmmaker Award
Stefan Forbes.


Australian Film Institute (AFI) Awards website.

International Documentary Association website.

Gemma Ward and Rhys Wakefield The Black Balloon: Icon Entertainment International.

Waltz with Bashir image: Sony Pictures Classics.

“AFI Awards: Autism & Human Trafficking Movies Are Top Winners + IDA Best Feature Documentary Tie” last updated in March 2018.

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