'Mayhem' leads AFI noms pack

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Paul Goldman's dark comedy "Suburban Mayhem" dominated the nominations for the Australian Film Institute Awards announced Thursday, earning recognition in 12 of 15 film categories, but failed to get a nod for best feature film.

The top award instead will be fought out between heroin flick "Candy," psychological drama "Jindabyne," break-out comedy hit "Kenny" and indigenous-language feature "Ten Canoes."

Among "Suburban Mayhem's" 12 noms is one for New Zealander Emily Barclay, a favorite for best actress for her star turn in the film as the murderous teen-ager Katrina. Barclay also received an acting nomination in the TV category.

Vying for the best director prize will be Ray Lawrence for "Jindabyne," Clayton Jacobson for "Kenny," Goldman for "Suburban Mayhem" and Rolf de Heer and Peter Djigirr for "Ten Canoes."

Lawrence's "Jindabyne" received nine nominations, including best film, best director, best actress for Laura Linney, best actor for Gabriel Byrne and best supporting actress for Deborra-Lee Furness.

Also vying for best actress alongside Linney and Barclay is Abbie Cornish for "Candy" and Teresa Palmer for "2:37."

In the best actor category, Byrne and Heath Ledger ("Candy") will compete with Shane Jacobson ("Kenny") and Steve Le Marquand ("Last Train to Freo").

"Candy" and "Ten Canoes" each received seven nominations, while "Kenny" received six and Geoffrey Wright's reimagining of "Macbeth" got five. Other nominated features include Ana Kokkinos' "The Book of Revelation" and Murali K. Thalluri's youth suicide film "2:37."

Announcing the nominations, newly installed AFI president James Hewison said 2006 has been a "remarkable" year of production in local film and TV. Acting Australian Film Commission CEO Chris Fitchett added that Australian features — led by "Kenny" with AUS$5.2 million ($3.9 million) and "Jindabyne" with AUS$5.1 million ($3.8 million) — have accounted for AUS$21 million ($15.75 million) in Australian ticket sales this year and that this year's share of boxoffice by Australian films will surpass last year's 2.8% share.

AFI Award sponsor L'Oreal also announced it will fund a young actor award for the first time, giving an 18-year-old $20,000 to further a career in film.

In addition, the awards will feature another new category — the AFI visual effects award.

In a year when Australian drama was thin on TV screens, dramas made by Australia's smallest broadcasters were the most nominated.

"Remote Area Nurse," made by SBS Independent, received nine tele-vision nominations but missed out for best telefilm or miniseries, while Foxtel's pay TV series "Love My Way" picked up six nominations, including best actress noms for Claudia Karvan and Asher Keddie.

Following the same format initiated last year, the AFI Awards, considered the most prestigious in Australian film and television, will take place in Melbourne over two nights. The craft category winners will be awarded at a Dec. 6 ceremony while the remaining awards will be handed out at a gala dinner Dec. 7.

Geoffrey Rush will host the awards, which will be telecast Dec. 7 at 9:30 p.m. on the Nine Network.
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