'Romulus,' 'Home' top Oz noms


Two films that deal with Australian immigrant stories — one set in the postwar era and one in the 1970s — dominated the nominations for the Australian Film Institute Awards.

Actor Richard Roxburgh's directorial debut, "Romulus, My Father," swept the board, earning mentions in every category and doubling up in the best actor and supporting actor categories to total 15 nominations. Tony Ayres' semi-autobiographical "The Home Song Stories" also was nominated in every category for a total of 12 nominations.

"Romulus" is based on the life of Australian philosopher Raimond Gaita and his embattled migrant family in postwar Australia, while "Home Song" centers on Rose, a glamorous Shanghai nightclub singer who struggles to survive in '70s Australia with two young children.

Both are up for best feature, where they will compete with Matthew Saville's "Noise" and Michael James Rowland's "Lucky Miles."

The dozen noms for "Home Song" continues the film's domination of Australia's awards season: This month, it received nine nominations at the People's Choice-style Inside Film Awards, Joan Chen is up for best actress at next month's inaugural Asia Pacific Screen Awards, and it was chosen last week as Australia's entry in the foreign-language Oscar race.

Also scoring strongly at the AFI nominations were Cherie Nowlan's "Clubland," with 11 nominations, and "Noise," with nine. "Clubland" missed out on a nomination for best feature film.

The best actress category has a distinctly international flavor, with just one Australian, Kerry Armstrong ("Razzle Dazzle"), among the nominees. She will face off against Brenda Blethyn ("Clubland"), Chen ("Home Song") and Franka Potente ("Romulus").

In the best actor category, Eric Bana ("Romulus") is up against his co-star, 12-year-old Kodi Smit-McPhee, along with Brendan Cowell ("Noise") and Qi Yuwu ("Home Song").

The AFI continues to build its slate of internationally focused awards with a new Global Achievement Award this year, joining the two international awards it hands out to Australian actors in overseas film or TV roles.

The Global Achievement Award will "recognize the achievement of a particular Australian, an achievement that has reached truly global proportions," AFI CEO James Hewison said.

Actor nominees for this year's AFI International Awards are Bana ("Lucky You"), Julian McMahon ("Nip/Tuck"), Hugh Jackman ("The Prestige") and Dominic Purcell ("Prison Break"). The best actress side is represented by Rachel Griffiths ("Brothers & Sisters"), Rose Byrne ("Damages"), Jacinda Barrett ("The Last Kiss") and Toni Collette ("Little Miss Sunshine").

This year's AFI Awards, widely regarded as the most prestigious awards in the Australian film and TV industry, will be held Dec. 5-6 in Melbourne and is hosted by Geoffrey Rush.