'Black Balloon' soars with 10 IF noms

'Men's Group,' 'Son of a Lion' also in for best feature

SYDNEY -- Fresh from picking up the Australian Directors Guild Award for best director, Elissa Down's debut feature "The Black Balloon" on Tuesday picked up 10 nominations for the annual IF (Inside Film) Awards, known as the people's choice awards of Australian film.

Headlining the nominations for best feature film were "Balloon," Michael Joy's "Men's Group" and Benjamin Gilmour's "Son of a Lion."

"Balloon" also received nominations in the director category, along with best production design, editing, sound and music. It also featured in the acting categories with a best actress nomination for newcomer Gemma Ward, and an actor nom for Rhys Wakefield. Denson Baker received a nomination for best cinematography and Down and co-writer Jimmy The Exploder shared a screenplay nomination.

The other dominant feature was Peter Duncan's "Unfinished Sky," which, while nominated in eight major categories, failed to pick up a nom for best feature. It matched "Balloon" in every other category but best music.

"Unfinished Sky's "Monic Hendrickx, who reprised her award-winning performance from the original Dutch film, "De Poolse Bruid," received a best actress nomination, while co-star William McInnes was similarly nominated in the actor category.

Maeve Darmody ("Black Water") and Grant Dodwell ("Men's Group") rounded out the acting categories.

"Balloon" doubled up on nominations Tuesday, also featuring in the Asia Pacific Screen Awards, where it was nominated in the best children's feature category.

Nominees in the other key category, the Independent Spirit Awards, include Christopher Weekes, writer-director and lead actor of "Bitter & Twisted"; producer Jason Byrne, who independently funded and distributed cult comedy "Rats & Cats"; and Gilmour and Carolyn Johnson for "Son of a Lion."

Readers of IF magazine and the general public vote for the awards online, although several of the craft awards are peer-selected.

The awards will be held Nov. 13 on Queensland's Gold Coast and broadcast nationally on SBS and pay TV channel Showtime.