'Men's Group' pulls off IF Awards upset

Wins three prizes, including best feature

SYDNEY -- "Men's Group" was the surprise best feature winner at Thursday's Inside Film Awards, dubbed the people's choice awards of Australian film.

"Men's Group," about the emotions that surface when a group of six very different men meet once a week to talk, took three awards from four nominations, including nods for best actor (Grant Dodwell) and best script by writer-producers Michael Joy and John L. Simpson.

The film beat the perceived top contenders "The Black Balloon" and "Unfinished Sky." "Balloon" won one award from 10 nominations -- for boxoffice achievement. It has been the top-ranking local film at the Australian boxoffice this year, with receipts of AUS$2.3 million ($1.5 million).

Peter Duncan's "Unfinished Sky" won four awards: best director, actress (Monic Hendrickx), production design and editing. Benjamin Gilmour's feature "Son of a Lion," set in Afghanistan, won two: the Independent Spirit Award and best music.

"The Burning Season," Cathy Henkel's tale of the effects of forest clearing in Indonesia, was named best documentary.

Elsewhere, Jules O'Loghlin took the cinematography nod for "September"; "The Square" won best sound; and the award for best unproduced screenplay went to Kieran Darcy-Smith for "Memorial Day."

Hugo Weaving took away the Living Legend Award, while Leon Ford, cast in the upcoming Australian-Israeli animated feature "$9.99" and miniseries "The Pacific," was named Rising Talent.