6 AFI nods for Aussie Oscar hopeful

Best pic, helmer among 'Canoes' haul

SYDNEY -- Boosting its Oscar hopes, Rolf De Heer and Peter Djigirr's bawdy indigenous-language feature "Ten Canoes" dominated at Thursday night's Australian Film Institute Awards, Australia's most prestigious film and television prizes.

"Ten Canoes" picked up the three key awards at the black-tie ceremony: best film; best director, for Rolf de Heer and Peter Djigirr; and best original screenplay, for de Heer. The three nods joined awards for best cinematography, best editing and best sound that "Ten Canoes" picked up in a special presentation Wednesday night (HR 12/06).

The plaudits didn't stop there. Writer-director De Heer also was honored with the prestigious Byron Kennedy award for excellence in filmmaking, while "Ten Canoes" cinematographer Ian Jones received the Longford lifetime achievement award for his enduring contribution to Australian screen culture.

The awards have been mounting up for "Ten Canoes" since it won the Un Certain Regard special jury prize at the Festival de Cannes in May. Last month, it took home the Film Critics Circle of Australia award for best film. It is Australia's official entry into the foreign-language film category at the 2007 Academy Awards.

"Ten Canoes" beat out Ray Lawrence's "Jindabyne," Neil Armfield's "Candy" and the hit comedy "Kenny," for the AFI's best film nod. "Candy" screenwriters Luke Davies and Neil Armfield won best adapted feature film screenplay honors.

Paul Goldman's "Suburban Mayhem" also was well lauded. Emily Barclay took the best actress award, a category she has dominated this Australian awards season, for her role as the malevolent Katrina, while Antony Hayes was named best supporting actor.

Other acting nods went to Shane Jacobsen for his role as a portable toilet plumber in "Kenny" and Susie Porter, who picked up best supporting actress for "The Caterpillar Wish."

Porter was a double winner on the night. Her starring role in the SBS TV miniseries "RAN" won her best actress in a television drama. "RAN," which, like "Ten Canoes," is set in a remote aboriginal community in the north of Australia, dominated the television categories, winning for best telefeature or miniseries and best screenplay.

In other specialist awards, Heath Ledger won the AFI International award for best actor in "Brokeback Mountain" and picked up the readers' choice award as voted on by the readers of News Limited newspapers. Rachel Griffiths ("Six Feet Under") took home the international award for best actress and the AFI Young Actor Award went to Marnie Kennedy for her role in children's TV drama "Mortified."