Samsung AACTA Awards Luncheon

FilmInk was in attendance to see who took home the first round of awards...



As I enter the door of the Westin hotel I am swept into a football style crowd of bustling bodies, bumping into Rebecca Gibney, thrusting her onto the red carpet. Flash lights blaze, someone takes my photo, only to lower the camera seconds later when they realise I am in fact, nobody important.

This is the first ever Australian Academy of Cinema and Television Arts (AACTA) awards luncheon, the prelude to the main event, to be held at the Sydney Opera House on January 31.

Seated at table 8 – not quite table 21 but obviously not in the top 5 – I find an artistic seafood stack at my table and a bunch of friendly nominees. As I finish my entrée and get to know my table mates, a nice young lady comes over and informs everyone they are being moved to table 2 – everyone but me. Shortly after the table is reset, I receive a fresh plate of prawns and a new bunch of filmmakers, nominated for their short animation film, The Missing Key. “Do you think you’re going to win?” I ask, “Or is it just an honour to be nominated?” Sensing his response will end up in this blog, the producer implies the latter.

Jack Thompson’s voice over introduction booms across the ballroom informing us that we acknowledge the true Aboriginal heritage of this site and we all clap together in political correctness.

Sigrid Thornton arrives on stage and gives a fabulous speech welcoming us to the new AACTA and explaining that the iconic Award statuette is inherently Australian as it reflects the image of the Southern Cross in its design. She must have a portrait in Dorian Grey’s cupboard because she looks 25 even on the unforgiving 10-foot screens.

After endless bottles of wine, the category of animated short-film is announced. Unfortunately The Missing Key does not win but our table claps graciously and agree unanimously that “it was an honour to be nominated.”

After Mrs Carey’s Concert wins just about everything as well as anything made by the ABC, we take a short break and receive our beef and potato bake. Unfortunately half way through mine I find a hair baked into the potato and my table mates inform me I am lucky – they’ve probably already eaten theirs.

After the break, we cross live to Jacki Weaver at the “G’day Australia” event in Los Angles where nominees for the new AACTA International awards are announced, including Best Picture, Director, Actor and Actress featuring The Descendants, The Ides of March, and We Need To Talk About Kevin in every category. Winners will be announced at the G’Day USA Black Tie Gala held in Los Angeles on January 14, 2012.

Legendary Director of Photography, Don McAlpine (Romeo + Juliet, Moulin Rouge) receives the Raymond Longford award recognising “long-term commitment to excellence in the film and television industries.”

We’re informed it’s all over for today and I think it can’t possibly be yet because I haven’t received a desert. Luckily as the lights turn up, so does my panna cotta.

View the full list of winners here. The Samsung AACTA Awards Ceremony will be held on the Sydney Opera House on January 31. Tickets are on sale to the event now here.

Picture caption: The winners from the luncheon. Photo from the AFI Blog.


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