AACTA unveils short documentary award, lower fees for low-budget features, docs

SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA - DECEMBER 05: Paul Damien Williams and Shannon Swan pose in the media room with the AACTA Award for Best Feature Documentary during the 2018 AACTA Awards Presented by Foxtel at The Star on December 5, 2018 in Sydney, Australia. (Photo by Lisa Maree Williams/Getty Images for AFI) *** Local Caption *** Paul Damien Williams;Shannon Swan

Paul Damien Williams and Shannon Swan, who won the 2018 AACTA best documentary award for ‘Gurrumul’

Responding to growing audience interest in factual and documentary content, the Australian Academy of Cinema and Television Arts (AACTA) today announced a new award for best short documentary.

Concurrently the organisation has reduced entry fees for feature films and feature documentaries budgeted under $500,000 following industry and entrant feedback to open the field for a broader diversity of films and filmmakers.

AFI | AACTA CEO Damian Trewhella said: “As we see the popularity of short form factual content continue to rise, we are proud to recognise the exciting new Australian voices working in this space via the AACTA award for best short documentary.”

The entry fee is the same as for short fiction and animated films: $100 for AACTA members and $70 for students. The nominees will be chosen by the AACTA documentary branch with the winner decided by AFI and AACTA members voting.

Noting the critical acclaim in recent years for Australian short documentary filmmakers, Trewhella cited Brendan Pinches’ Be You T. Fool, which was the first documentary short to win Tropfest in 23 years.

Last week, Stefan Bugryn’s War Mothers: Unbreakable, the follow-up to his 2017 award-winning short documentary War Mothers, premiered at Tribeca Film Festival. The film follows 18-year-old Yana, who puts aside her dreams of becoming a doctor and creates a national movement that almost costs her her life as her country Ukraine goes to war.

“The AACTA Awards can generate huge exposure for Australian filmmakers and this award will not only see these filmmakers share in these outcomes but will shine a light on this exciting area of growth within our industry,” he said.

Following the introduction of the AACTA award for best indie film last year, the organisation has introduced a new tier of entry fees for low budget features and feature documentaries, which are $780 and $500 respectively.

The lower fees further build on AACTA’s commitment to inclusivity, continuing to open the pathway for a broader diversity of films and filmmakers to enter the AACTA Awards, it said.

The following fees are unchanged:
• $1,350 for feature films budgeted between $500,000 and $2 million
• $2,016 for feature films budgeted above $2 million
• $630 for feature documentaries budgeted between $500,000 and $1 million
• $780 for feature documentaries budgeted above $1 million

Entries for the feature film, feature documentary and short documentary categories opened today. The closing dates are as follows:

• Feature film – Monday July 1
• Feature documentary – Monday May 27
• Short documentary – Monday May 27