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There were celebrations across Australia — and Vanuatu — as news of a record 13 Oscar nominations for three Australian films, Lion, Hacksaw Ridge and Tanna, landed on Wednesday. The nominations set a number of precedents: Hacksaw Ridge and Lion mark the first time two Australian films have been nominated in the best picture category and Tanna, shot in Vanuatu, is Australia’s first-ever best foreign-language film nominee.
Tanna co-director and producer Bentley Dean told The Hollywood Reporter he is looking forward to introducing the people of Yakel, whose story is told in the film, to Hollywood.
“It took a bit of time to explain the significance of an Oscar nomination to the villagers of Yakel, but they are extremely proud and looking forward to hitting the red carpet for the awards ceremony,” said Dean. “[Co-director] Martin [Butler] and I are full of smiles.”
Melbourne native Greig Fraser, a first-time nominee for best cinematography for Lion, paid tribute to director Garth Davis and his crew.
“It is such an incredible honor to be nominated for such a special film like Lion,” Fraser told THR. “Our extraordinarily talented leader Garth Davis was instrumental in the entire cast and crew achieving something beyond what we’d all ever done before.”
He added, “Being able to create a film in two such diverse cultures as Australia and India, and becoming immersed in both, was such a pleasure. My crew in both countries share the success of this film.”
Graeme Mason, CEO of agency Screen Australia, which helped finance both Lion and Tanna and provided support via the producer offset for Hacksaw Ridge, said the nominations were “a moment for the entire Australian screen industry to savor. It is truly remarkable to have two films nominated in the best picture category, with the teams from Lion and Hacksaw Ridge rightly acknowledged for the captivating stories they so skillfully told.”
Added Mason: “Furthermore, for an English-speaking country to be able to make a film worthy of a foreign language film nomination is extraordinary, and we could not be more proud of Tanna’s Australia creative team, and of course the people of Tanna, Vanuatu, who shared this Oscar-worthy tale.
“Hacksaw Ridge, Lion and Tanna demonstrate the global nature of the Australian screen industry and the diversity of stories we now tell,” continued Mason. “Our industry is now worth AUS$3 billion a year ($2.26 billion), employs over 25,000 people and delivers $725 million from tourism. This is something every Australian can be proud of.”
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