AFI restores peer voting for film, docs

Four new categories introduced to awards

SYDNEY -- The Australian Film Institute announced changes to its membership and awards voting system Wednesday, bringing back peer voting in the best film and documentary categories and introducing four new categories.

Under the new system, only professional members of the AFI will be required to view all films within a category ahead of voting.

Previously, those awards were open for voting by all AFI members -- any member of the public could join the AFI for an annual fee and could attend AFI-held screenings to vote for films in a range of categories.

General AFI members will still be able to vote in the new Members Choice Awards category, a move aimed at increasing boxoffice support for local features. All AFI members also will be eligible to vote for best short fiction film and best short animation, with screening and voting able to be done online.

AFI CEO Damian Trewhella said the changes will "more closely align the AFI Awards with other prestigious international awards systems."

They were made following requests from the local industry and will "ensure we are able to provide the best possible AFI Awards and the most useful service to our industry," he said.

The annual AFI Awards are regarded as the most prestigious of the country's film and TV awards and are handed out each December.

At the same time, the Institute has announced several new award categories including best children's TV animation, best documentary under one hour, best feature-length documentary and best documentary series.