'Red Dog' is Top Dog at Australia's Biggest Awards Night

Red Dog Film Review 2011

Red Dog Film Review 2011

Canine box office wins best picture, but 'Snowtown' takes biggest haul.


SYDNEY -- 2011 Australian box office hit Red Dog came up trumps as the best film of 2011 voted by the newly minted Australian Academy of Cinema and Television Arts (AACTA) at its inaugural awards ceremony at the Sydney Opera House on Tuesday. 

But while Red Dog took out the top prize – adding to the members' choice award it received earlier in the month -- it was the gritty Snowtown, Justin Kurzel’s feature début about Australia’s worst serial killings, that dominated the night, winning six AACTA awards in total. 

Kurzel won for best direction, while key cast including first time actors Daniel Henshaw and Louise Harris won best lead actor and best supporting actress, respectively. Shaun Grant won the AACTA for best adapted screenplay from Snowtown and the film also won best editing and best sound in the craft awards which were handed out on Jan. 15. 

Industry veterans Judy Davis won best lead actress for her role in Fred Schepisi’s The Eye Of the Storm, while Hugo Weaving received the AACTA Award for best supporting actor for Oranges And Sunshine. 

First time writer-director Leon Ford won best screenplay for Griff The Invisible

The TV awards were dominated by Matchbox Pictures six part series, The Slap that aired on pubcasters the Australian Broadcasting Corp. (ABC) and BBC last year.  

It took away five awards including best telefeature, mini series or short run series; best lead actor in a TV drama (Alex Dimitriades);  best direction in television (Matt Saville); best screenplay in television (Brendan Cowell) and best guest or supporting actress (Diana Glenn). 

Crime series East West 101,which follows a police unit specializing in Middle Eastern crime, won the award for best TV drama, while the ABC’s spin on the world of advertising, The Gruen Transfer won best light entertainment program. 

The Slap, will air on DirectTV from Feb. 15 and producers recently confirmed to THR that a U.S. version of the series The Slap is in the works. 

AACTA president Geoffrey Rush and Australian of the Year anchored the ceremony as host, aided by Cate Blanchett, Mia Wasikowska, Jonathan and Anthony LaPaglia, Jacki Weaver and Rachael Taylor. Tuesday’s ceremony, telecast on a two and half hour delay by the Nine Network followed the presentation of the International Awards last Friday in Los Angeles, with presenters including Nicole Kidman, Russell Crowe and again presided over by Rush. 

The new format for the awards, with the nominations and the awards presentations run over a series of four events in Jan., was largely well received, following the establishment of the Australian Academy last year which is now  run along similar lines to the US’ AMPAS and the UK’s BAFTA.  The January date brings the wards in lien with the international awards season and aims to boost the profile of the AACTA’s, Rush said. 

Blanchett said the new format had “galvanized all the energy of the industry. 

“It s always been a small but potent industry and the talent is unsurpassable,” Blanchett said. 

The full list of inaugural AACTA winners can be found here.