Byron Kennedy Award

Byron Kennedy Award

The Byron Kennedy Award, which honours Dr George Miller’s original filmmaking partner and Mad Max co-creator Byron Kennedy, celebrates outstanding creative enterprise within the film and television industries and is given to an individual or organisation whose work embodies innovation and the relentless pursuit of excellence. Presented by Kennedy Miller Mitchell, in association with AACTA, this Award includes a cash prize of $10,000. The recipient is selected by an appointed jury annually.

Byron Kennedy Award recipients are dynamic and diverse. They include filmmaker and film festival founder John Polson, cutting edge film technology/computer graphic imaging experts Animal Logic, multidisciplinary filmmaker Ivan Sen, filmmaker, animator and artist Sarah Watt, the Australian Cinematographers Society, and most recently writer, director and producer Amiel Courtin-Wilson.

For a full list of Byron Kennedy recipients, click here.

The call for Byron Kennedy Award recommendations for the 5th AACTA Awards has now closed.

The most recent Byron Kennedy Award honoured Amiel Courtin-Wilson for his risk taking and evocative storytelling. The jury felt that “Amiel has been patiently searching for truth and beauty at the margins of society, making films which have captured the attention of international audiences”.

Amiel Courtin-Wilson made his first film when he was just nine years old. A gangster tale about criminals smuggling cocaine in glass eyes, the film was promptly banned by Amiel’s grade four teacher for excessive violence and drug use.

Experimentations with a Super 8 camera followed, before Chasing Buddha – a documentary featuring Amiel’s Buddhist nun aunt – brought Amiel to international attention when it premiered at Sundance in 2000. Chasing Buddha was nominated for an AFI Award, and won the IF Award for Best Documentary, that same year. He was just 19 at the time.

For his 2007 documentary Bastardy, Amiel followed Aboriginal elder, actor and cat burglar Jack Charles over seven years, documenting his battles with crime, as well as his infectious humour and optimism. Provocative, funny and profoundly moving, Bastardy screened at a number of local and international festivals, and in 2009 won the Best Documentary Jury Prize at the Film Critics Circle of Australia Awards.

In 2005, Amiel met Daniel P. Jones, a skilful actor and former prisoner. Their first collaboration was the short film – Cicada – which screened as part of the Director’s Fortnight in Cannes in 2009. The pair worked together again on Hail – Amiel’s first drama feature film and a mythical and epic tale of love, loss and vengeance, starring Jones as a fictionalised version of himself.

In 2011, Hail became the first Australian feature film in ten years selected for the Venice International Film Festival. Amiel returned to Venice in 2013 with Ruin, a feature he co-directed and co-produced with Michael Cody. An impressionistic fable about two young lovers on the run, set and filmed in Cambodia, Ruin won Amiel and Michael a Special Jury Prize at Venice, as well as number of other international accolades.

The Byron Kennedy Award was presented to Amiel Courtin-Wilson at the 4th AACTA Awards Ceremony in Sydney on Thursday 29 January 2015.