'Home Song' dominates Inside Film awards

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SYDNEY -- The Australian film and TV awards season kicked off Wednesday with the announcement of nominations for the annual Inside Film awards, with the Australia –Singapore co-production "Home Song Stories" dominating the 2007 lineup.

Tony Ayres' semi-autobiographical film about a Chinese singer and her family who settle in Australia in the '70s picked up nine total noms, including best feature film, best director, best actor (Joel Lok) and best actress (Joan Chen).

The IF Awards are considered the people's choice awards, voted by readers of Inside Film magazine, although the awards for best director, best editing, best production design and best sound are voted on by industry professionals in each craft category.

Also vying for best picture are Dee McLachlan's independently-financed and produced thriller "The Jammed," about the sex slave trade in underground Melbourne, which was nominated in a total of six categories, and Michael James Rowland's gentle comedy about Iranian and Cambodian refugees, "Lucky Miles," which received five nominations.

The key films vying for the bulk of the awards show a new focus by Australian filmmakers telling Australian stories with an international focus set in a variety of geographical locations.

Other films which received multiple nominations included Matt Saville's "Noise" with five nominations and Cherie Nowlan's "Clubland" with three.

International veterans Brenda Blethyn ("Clubland") and Chen are joined by newcomer Veronica Sywak ("The Jammed") in the best actress category. Brendan Cowell ("Noise") and Richard Green ("Boxing Day") join Lok in the best actor category.

Also up against Ayres as best director are Matt Saville and Kriv Stenders for "Boxing Day."

Curiously absent from the list of nominations was Richard Roxburghs' debut feature "Romulus My Father," which starred Eric Bana and which is the top-ranking Aussie film at the domestic boxoffice so far this year.

The IF Awards ceremony takes place Nov. 16 on the final night of the annual Screen Producers Association of Australia confab on the Gold Coast.
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