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Prizes & Projections 2001

Prizes & Projections 2001 Introduction

2001 Emirates AFI Awards, the films, the issues

Cunnamulla, Denis O'Rourke Cunnamulla, Denis O'Rourke
This year, the Emirates AFI Awards will be celebrated by a film and television industry buoyed by a recent Federal Government funding injection of $92.7m, the return of the production cost tax rebate scheme and a prominent role for the AFC in the management of broadband content development ($2.1m). Yes, the dollars will be invaluable at the development and production end, but what about effective distribution? The big issue remains, how can the industry attract bigger and loyal Australian film audiences. Is it now time to get screen culture (and screen education) right back on the agenda? When funding was tight over recent years and the industry was clamouring for more development funds, screen culture was downgraded and under-funded, despite being championed by the likes of George Miller and Scott Hicks. To assess the likely value of the increase in funds (or, as some have put it, a return to previous levels), Tina Kaufman interviews prominent industry figures, and both Kaufman and Jane Mills consider the role of screen education, an area Mills has had some distinctive recent experience in, as you’ll see.

Last year RealTime published its first Prizes and Projections supplement, reviewing all the features, shorts, documentaries and animations nominated for the 2000 AFI Awards. The response was great, largely because RealTime was the only publication to give significant space to the non-feature film categories, as well as providing a history and commentary on the Awards’ often controversial history. This year we’re doing it again and its been made somewhat easier by changes to the judging system. Feature films can only be judged if they’ve achieved distribution and been screened, keeping the nominees to 13 this year. The number of shorts and documentaries in the final nominations for each category has been limited to 4 or 5–the number of actual entries was almost double that of last year (90 short films and 68 documentaries).

This year the awards will be screened on prime time Channel 7 on November 16 from the Royal Exhibition Building in Melbourne.
No doubt the AFI is banking on the attendance of some of stars who’ve made it big in Hollywood—Cate Blanchett, Geoffrey Rush, Anthony LaPaglia, Toni Colette, Hugh Jackman, Heath Ledger, Naomi Watts, our Nicole etc etc—to attract a wider audience than usual. Eddie Lim, Emirates Area Manager, puts us in the picture: “A major objective of our sponsorship was to globalise the Australian film industry and we believe this is a significant step in realising that goal.” But the AFI now has competition. Now in their second year, the if magazine awards will be telecast live on SBS on November 7.

It seems amazing that in a small industry such as ours that there’s room for 2 awards nights in the same month, so it’ll be interesting to see how they play out and whether or not the judging is that different. Hopefully we can move beyond the “a sound designer is responsible for…” boredom of past telecasts with some innovative programming backed up with some good writers and decent compering—Denton & Keller, Clarke & Dawe, Roy & HG, or hand the whole production over to Working Dog.
The Editors

RealTime issue #45 Oct-Nov 2001 pg. 13

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