Australian Associated Press | 18 November 2000
SYDNEY, Nov 18 AAP - A whimsical tale of a Sydney Italian schoolgirl coping with love, HSC exams and discovering a father scooped this year’s Australian Film Institute (AFI) awards tonight. Looking For Alibrandi, one of the biggest grossing homegrown films of the year, took out five of Australia’s top film award trophies, including the premier best film award.
Australia’s brightest young star Pia Miranda won the leading actress gong while seasoned Hollywood player Greta Scacchi won the Best Actress category for her role as Pia’s mother.
“I did not prepare a speech, so I am going to have to wing it,” Miranda said, before proceeding to thank cast, crew, family and friends. Looking For Alibrandi also won an AFI for Best Adapted Screenplay by Melina Marchetta and Best Editing for Martin Conner. Funnyman Eric Bana took out the coveted Best Actor gong for his acclaimed performance in the movie Chopper as notorious standover man Mark “Chopper” Read.
“Well, this is plush, this is swank,” Bana said. “Who said playing Chopper Read wouldn’t pay. “I can’t cry because Chopper would be disappointed,” a choked-up Bana said.
His righ-thand man Simon Lyndon was awarded the AFI for Best Supporting Actor while director Andrew Dominik beat off Alibrandi’s Kate Woods to take out the Best Director award.
Read became a cult figure after the release of his autobiography, on which Chopper is based. “Thanks Mark, I’m so relieved you liked the film,” Dominik told the AFI audience.
Greta Scacchi was not on hand to collect her Best Supporting Actress award for her portrayal of the mother to Miranda’s schoolgirl in Looking for Alibrandi.
Bootmen, the film adaptation of the hit dance spectacular Tap Dogs, took out five AFIs, all in production and technical categories. Despite being nominated for eight AFIs, including Best Film, Better Than Sex failed to garner any awards.
The hit ABC TV drama series Grass Roots, which explores the inner workings of a town council, dominated the AFI awards for television with "The Whole Year" episode winning four awards. Geoff Morrell took out the Best Actor category for his starring role in the series while Anne Phelan won the Best Actress award for ABC’s Something in the Air.
However, it didn’t take long for the AFI awards to be characterised by “hands off our ABC” speeches by winners. Phelan used her short acceptance speech to appeal to the “beancounters at the ABC”.
“This industry is a better showcase for this country than a one-off sports event,” she said. “To subsidise this industry is not a charity. It’s bloody good business sense.”
The prize for Best Documentary went to the producers of The Diplomat, Sally Browning and Wilson da Silva. Da Silva’s biggest thank you for their documentary about East Timor’s diplomatic fight for independence went to the East Timorese themselves. “To the people of East Timor, who are the real heroes of this, we may have won this but they have their freedom,” he said. “Viva Timor Lorasae.”
The Diplomat’s director, Tom Zubrycki, won the award for Best Direction of a Documentary.