'Balloon' soars at Aussie helmer awards

Debut director Elissa Down tackles autism in feature drama

SYDNEY -- First-time director Elissa Down won top honors at the Australian Directors Guild Awards over the weekend for her feature "The Black Balloon," about a family dealing with an autistic child.

At Saturday night's ceremony, Tom Murray won the ADA award for best feature documentary director for "In My Father's Country."

The ADA gave its first Get Real About Sustainable Screens Award to Ben Lawrence for "What One Person Can Do." The award honors a director who recognizes environmental sustainability on and off screen.

In the outstanding achievement categories, cartoonist and filmmaker Bruce Petty won the outstanding achievement award; documentarian Tom Zubrycki won the Cecil Holmes Award in recognition of his craft and work for other directors; and Kate Woods, who is currently directing the U.S. drama "Private Practice," won the Michael Carson Award for excellence in TV drama production.