AACTA unveils documentary nominees

‘Mystify: Michael Hutchence.’ 

The Australian Academy of Cinema and Television Arts (AACTA) has unveiled the first set of nominees for this year’s awards, announcing the five films that will compete for Best Documentary.

Two films detailing the racial vilification of former Sydney Swans captain and Australian of the Year Adam Goodes, Daniel Gordon’s The Australian Dream and Ian Darling’s The Final Quarter, will square off against other for the award.

Other nominees include Richard Lowenstein’s portrait of his late friend and INXS frontman, Mystify: Michael Hutchence, which has made more than $1 million at the box office and screened at Tribeca and Hot Docs. Maya Newell’s In My Blood It Runs, which premiered in competition at Hot Docs, will also compete for the award, as will Janine Hosking’s portrait of concert pianist Geoffrey Tozer, The Eulogy.

‘The Australian Dream’.

A notable omission from the nominees is Damon Gameau’s 2040, which is the highest grossing Australian documentary at the box office this year, having rung up more than $1.3 million.

The nominees were determined by the AACTA Documentary Branch, which is made up of past AFI and AACTA documentary award winners and nominees as well as other members of the Australian documentary industry. The winner will now be determined by all AACTA members, with round two voting to be held October 22 – November 3.

All nominated films will be screened at the free AACTA Docs Fest, to be held September 16 – 18 in Sydney and Brisbane at Event Cinemas and September 17 – 19 in Melbourne at Cinema Nova. For those located outside of those cities, AFI and AACTA members can also view the films online on AACTA TV from 16 September.

“We are delighted to announce our first AACTA Award nominees for the year to our members and the Australian public, drawing attention to the world-class quality of Australian documentaries and the great filmmakers behind them,” said AFI | AACTA CEO Damian Trewhella.

“It’s a highly competitive year for Australian documentaries with the nominees presenting a wide range of deeply moving stories that are sure to engage and inspire audiences.”

The full list of nominees:

The remarkable story of AFL legend Adam Goodes told through the powerful backdrop of Goodes’ journey, exploring race, identity and belonging in Australia today.
Producer: Sarah Thomson, Nick Batzias, Virginia Whitwell, John Battsek
Director: Daniel Gordon
Editor: Matt Wyllie
Cinematographer: Dylan River, Michael Timney
Composer: Cornel Wilczek, Pascal Babare, Thomas Rouch

THE EULOGY unravels the truths and myths behind the life of one of Australia’s most brilliant and least understood concert pianists, Geoffrey Tozer. As an 8-year-old child prodigy, the world was his oyster. As an adult he continued to perform in Australia and internationally, but for a career that promised and delivered so much, Tozer’s ending was shocking. At his memorial service in 2009, friend and former Prime Minister, Paul Keating, delivered a searing eulogy, painting a haunting picture of a lonely genius shunned by the Australian musical establishment. Intrigued by Keating’s controversial eulogy and spurred to find out what went wrong with Tozer’s career, esteemed music educator, the late Richard Gill, goes on a journey to discover the man behind Keating’s eulogy. The epic tale and musical legacy of one of the greatest pianists Australia never really knew is finally revealed.
Producer: Janine Hosking, Katey Grusovin, Trish Lake
Director: Janine Hosking
Editor: Janine Hosking
Sound: Simon Hicks
Cinematographer: Rod Pollard
Composer: Geoffrey Tozer

Adam Goodes was a champion AFL footballer and Indigenous leader. In the final three years of his playing career he became a lightning rod for a heated public debate and widespread media commentary that divided the nation. He publicly called out racism, was named Australian of the Year, was accused of staging for free kicks, and performed an on-field war dance celebration. The cheers became boos as football crowds turned on him. Using only archival footage aired at the time, the film holds a mirror to Australia and is an opportunity to reconsider what happened on and off the football field.
Producer: Ian Darling, Mary Macrae
Director: Ian Darling
Editor: Sally Fryer
Sound: Wes Chew
Composer: Paul Charlier

Ten-year-old Dujuan is a child-healer, a good hunter and speaks two Indigenous languages. As he shares his wisdom of history and the complex world around him we see his spark and intelligence. Yet Dujuan is ‘failing’ in school and facing increasing scrutiny from welfare and the police. As he travels perilously close to incarceration, his family fight to give him a strong Arrernte education alongside his western education lest he becomes another statistic. We walk with him as he grapples with these pressures, shares his truths and somewhere in-between finds space to dream, imagine and hope for his future self.
Producer: Maya Newell, Sophie Hyde, Rachel Naninaaq Edwardson, Larissa Behrendt
Director: Maya Newell
Editor: Maya Newell, Simon Price, Bryan Mason
Sound: Kim Patrick, Tom Myers
Cinematographer: Maya Newell
Composer: Benjamin Speed, Amit May Cohen

MYSTIFY MICHAEL HUTCHENCE is a portrait of the internationally renowned front man of INXS, Michael Hutchence. Woven from an archive of Michael’s private home movies and those of his lovers, friends, and family, the film delves beneath the public persona of the charismatic ‘Rock God’ and reveals a multifaceted, intensely sensitive and complex man. We revel in Michael’s Dionysian beauty and sensuality on stage and off. We listen to the range of his extraordinary voice and witness the charmed way he travels through life as he is propelled to world acclaim. Although Michael struggled with the idea of success, it was a violent event that changed his life dramatically. Made vulnerable, he is unable to navigate the complex challenges he faces, and has little defence against the onslaught of the tabloid press that descends on his world. Amidst the darkness, Michael’s daughter, Tiger, becomes his one bright light.
Producer: Richard Lowenstein, Maya Gnyp, John Battsek, Sue Murray, Mark Fennessy, Lynn-Maree Milburn, Andrew de Groot
Director: Richard Lowenstein
Editor: Richard Lowenstein, Lynn-Maree Milburn, Tayler Martin
Sound: Robert Mackenzie, Mick Boraso, Simon Rosenberg, Lynn-Maree Milburn
Cinematographer: Andrew de Groot
Composer: Warren Ellis