Martin Butler and Bentley Dean to receive AACTA’s Byron Kennedy Award

Bentley Dean and Martin Butler. 

AACTA has named Martin Butler and Bentley Dean as this year’s recipients of the Byron Kennedy Award, which celebrates innovation and “outstanding creative enterprise” in the screen industry.

Filmmakers Butler and Dean have been collaborating for a decade and have placed a strong focus on collaboration with Indigenous communities. Their 2015 film Tanna was co-written and performed by the people of Yakel in Vanuatu, and went on to earn an Oscar nomination for Best Foreign Language Film – the only Australian film in the history to ever be nominated in the category.

The pair’s other projects include AFI award-winning documentary Contact about the Martu people’s first contact with modern Australia, and ABC documentary series First Footprints, which looked at 60,000 years of Aboriginal history.

Their most recent project, documentary Sense of Self, details Martin’s partner journalist Liz Jackson’s struggle with Parkinson’s disease. It is nominated for an AACTA Award for Best Direction in a Documentary this year.

Dean and Butler described the Byron Kennedy Award as “such an honour.”

“Our motivation has always been bringing important, but seemingly impossible stories to life in utterly compelling ways. We are humbled and fired up to join a league of Award recipients who get their kicks from ‘the relentless pursuit of excellence’.”

The Byron Kennedy Award, which honours George Miller’s original filmmaking partner and co-creator Byron Kennedy, carries a cash prize of $10,000 and is a discretionary award determined by an appointed jury.

“Martin and Bentley are exemplary recipients of the Byron Kennedy Award,” said Miller.

“Their integrity shines through all their endeavours. Because of this, they are held in the highest regard by their collaborators and audiences all over the world.”

Recent Byron Kennedy Award winners have included artist and director Lynette Wallsworth, cinematographer Adam Arkapaw and filmmaker Amiel Courtin-Wilson.

The Byron Kennedy Award will be presented to the pair at the 7th AACTA Awards on December 6.