Nominations for the The 6th AACTA Awards – Indigenous Films well represented

On Thursday 27th October, the nominations for the 6th annual AACTA awards were announced. The AACTA’s are the most prestigious awards ceremony for film and television in Australia. This year numerous Indigenous films were nominated for many different awards. These nominations are an excellent endorsement for the Indigenous film industry, as it illustrates that Indigenous films are worth seeing and being made. 

The AACTA awards (previously the AFI Awards) was launched in 2011 by the Australian Film Institute (AFI). The primary role of AACTA is to “recognise, encourage, promote and celebrate film and television excellence in Australia through the nation’s highest screen accolades”. AACTA is overseen by AACTA President, Geoffrey Rush, and an Honorary Council comprising more than 50 of Australia’s most outstanding film and television practitioners and performers.

While the AFI Awards were previously held in December, the AACTA awards are now held in January. This change was orchestrated so that the awards would be able to sit in the ‘International Film Awards’ calendar and be recognised as an international awards ceremony. Consequently the awards are now slotted between the Golden Globes (early January) and the Academy Awards (February). 

groupCate Blanchett, Geoffrey Rush and Russell Crowe at the 2013 AACTA Awards | Picture Source- Styleicons

Indigenous Nominee’s – 2016 AACTA Awards



Official Poster – Goldstone (2016) | Picture Source – IMDB Goldstone

Ivan Sen’s 2016 film ‘Goldstone‘ leads the nominations, for the most recognised Indigenous film. Goldstone follows the story of Indigenous Detective Jay Swan, who arrives in the frontier town of Goldstone on a missing persons enquiry. What seems like a simple light duties investigation opens a web of crime and corruption. Jay must pull his life together and work with the young local cop Josh, so they can bring justice to Goldstone. 

The following list are the nominations Goldstone received for the 6th AACTA Awards – 

  1. Best Film – Goldstone – Greer Simpkin, David Jowsey
  2. Best Direction – Goldstone – Ivan Sen
  3. Best original screenplay – Goldstone – Ivan Sen
  4. Best editing – Goldstone – Ivan Sen
  5. Best production design – Goldstone – Matt Putland


Alex Russell and Aaron Pederson in ‘Goldstone’ | Picture Source – SBS Ivan Sen’s ‘Goldstone’

TANNA (2015) 


Official Poster – Tanna (2015) | Picture Source – IMDB Tanna

The 2015 film Tanna is the second Indigenous film that has been recognised in the 6th AACTA Awards. The film, an Australia/Vanuatu co-production, is a Romeo and Juliet story set in one of the world’s last tribal societies. It is the first feature film shot entirely in the South Pacific nation of Vanuatu.  None of the ‘cast’ had ever acted before, but they passionately and naturally re-created this real-life story from recent tribal history. Although this film is based in the Island nations and was not shot on Australian soil, it is still included in my list of Indigenous films, due to the ‘tribal’ and ‘societal’ qualities. 

The following list are the nominations Tanna received for the 6th AACTA Awards – 

  1. Best Film – Tanna – Martin Butler ADG, Bentley Dean ADG, Carolyn Johnson
  2. Best Direction – Tanna – Bentley Dean ADG, Martin Butler ADG
  3. Best cinematography – Tanna – Bentley Dean ADG
  4. Best sound – Tanna – Emma Bortignon, James Ashton, Martin Butler ADG 
  5. Best original music score – Tanna – Antony Partos AGSC


SPEAR (2015) – Honorable Mention


Official Poster – Spear (2015) | Picture Source – IMDB Spear

An honorable mention goes to the 2015 Indigenous film Spear, that received two AACTA nominations. The film received nominations for Best cinematography (Bonnie Elliott) and Best costume design (Jennifer Irwin). Spear tells a contemporary Aboriginal story through movement and dance.Featuring dancers from the highly acclaimed Bangarra Dance Theatre, this is an intimate journey that brings modern day mythology to the screen. 

The AACTA Awards main televised ceremony will be in Sydney on December 7.

Please follow this link to see ALL the nominees for the 2016 AACTA Awards –


Cover Photo Source – AACTA Homepage


Indigenous Series: Director, Ivan Sen (Beneath Clouds)

Today is our first post dedicated to the ‘Indigenous Series’! This series will explore Indigenous directors, actors, films and TV Shows. The goal for this series is to promote Indigenous films and show how the Aboriginal film industry has interesting stories to tell and unique films to see. 

The first person explored in our Indigenous Series, is the Indigenous director Ivan Sen. His 2002 film ‘Beneath Clouds’ will also be explored in detail. Sen  is one of Australia’s most prolific filmmakers. Internationally renown, his films have been shown around the world at Festivals such as – 

  • Cannes Film Festival
  • Sundance Film Festival
  • Toronto International Film Festival
  • Berlin International Film Festival
  • London Film Festival
  • Sydney Film Festival
  • Melbourne International Film Festival

Sen is one of Australia’s auteur filmmakers. His films are breathtakingly beautiful, as they are able to capture the magic and spirit of modern-day Indigenous people. 

Sen’s Background


Sen on the set of his film Dreamland in the Nevada desert (2011)  – Picture Source: Peter Robb, The Monthly, ‘Dreamland- A Journey through north-western NSW with Ivan Sen’

Sen grew up in Coledale, Tamworth, a town in regional New South Wales. Coledale was one of the first public housing areas in Tamworth, and many Indigenous people lived there. Sen stated that Coledale was ‘kind of segregated from the rest of the town back then’, thus making him feel isolated and alone. Sen also dealt with high crime and drugs rates when he was growing up. While this may sound shocking to us, Sen said that he had ‘been faced by all these things all my life…’ He stresses that he no longer feels sadness about these issues, but instead wants to address these things in his films. 

One of Sen’s positive experiences of living in Coledale was going to the cinema. Sen commented that ‘The local cinema was a long walk from here, but every few weeks we had the money and we would go through the other side of town across the railway tracks…’ The first film he saw was Peter Weir’s magnificent film ‘Gallipoli’ (1981). As an eight-year old boy Sen was moved to tears and was emotionally effected by it. 

A Selection of Sen’s Films

Beneath Clouds (2002) 


Beneath Clouds (2002) Poster – Picture Source: IMP Awards – Beneath Clouds Poster

Beneath Clouds was Sen’s first feature film and was critically acclaimed both nationally and internationally. The films two actors had never acted before and were discovered by Sen. Dannielle Hall (Lena) was found in a video clip made by students at Tamworth TAFE and her co-star Damian Pitt (Vaughn) signed up after Sen spotted him on a street in Moree. 

Beneath Clouds tells the story of two disenfranchised teenagers who are looking to escape their worlds. Lena (Dannielle Hall) rejects her Indigenous family and longs for her Irish father, while Vaughn (Damian Pitt) has been aged by the prison system and is angry at the white world. These two complex characters come together and hitchhike to Sydney to find identity and freedom. 


Vaughn (Damian Pitt) and Lena (Dannielle Hall) in Beneath Clouds – Picture Source: Beneath Clouds Picture

The film went on to win numerous awards and be screened at numerous film festivals including – 

  • Berlin International Film Festival (WON – Beneath Clouds – Piper Heidsieck New Talent Award – Dannielle Hall – International Competition)
  • Berlin International Film Festival (WON – Beneath Clouds – Premiere First Movie Award – Ivan Sen – International Competition)
  • Sundance Film Festival (SCREENED – Native Forum – Beneath Clouds)
  • International Film Festival Rotterdam (SCREENED – Tracking Time – Beneath Clouds

Sen also won ‘Best Direction’ at the 2002 Australian Film Institute (AFI) awards. 

Sen’s Films continued…

Sen has continued to make films that promote and shed light on Indigenous issues in Australia! Some of these films include – Yellow Fella (2005), Toomelah (2011), Mystery Road (2013) and his latest film Goldstone (2016). 


Cover Photo Source – Toomelah Official Website