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Iconic Australian Directors go head-to-head as part of a varied group of nominees at this year’s Australian Academy Awards

After what was an incredibly strong year of Australian film, this year’s nominees for the AACTA Award for Best Direction in Film presented by Filmology Finance showcase that Australians are – and will continue to be – a force in global cinema. 

For the first time in the history of the Australian Film Institute (AFI) and the Australian Academy of Cinema and Television Arts (AACTA), two of Australia’s most influential and efficacious directors are competing against each other for the AACTA Award for Best Direction in Film presented by Filmology Finance. Baz Luhrmann’s for his dazzling biopic Elvis will square off against George Miller for the fantastical romance Three Thousand Years Of Longing.

Now ranked as the second-highest grossing musical biopic of all time, Elvis is leading the Australian Academy’s film nominations with 15 AACTA Award nominations. Three Thousand Years of Longing closely follows with 13 nominations. Luhrmann, who has taken the AACTA | AFI Award for Best Direction in Film twice – for Strictly Ballroom (1992) and The Great Gatsby (2014) – is aiming for a third. Miller also has two AACTA | AFI Awards for Best Direction in Film, for Mad Max 2 (1981) and Mad Max: Fury Road (2015).

While heavy-hitters Luhrmann and Miller may be battling for their third AACTA Award in Direction, feature film directorial debutant Leah Purcell is vying to for her first AACTA Award for Best Direction in Film for The Drover’s Wife The Legend of Molly Johnson. The Goa-Gunggari-Wakka Wakka Murri author, playwright, screenwriter, actor, director and producer has been a powerhouse in Australia’s entertainment industry for over three decades.

While the film marks her feature film directorial debut, Purcell is no stranger to the director’s chair. She directed acclaimed Australian series The Secret Daughter, My Life Is Murder and the AACTA award winning series Redfern Now. Making AACTA Award history, Purcell is the first person to be nominated for Best Direction in Film, Best Lead Actor in Film, Best Screenplay in Film, and Best Film. Adding to her growing list of accolades, Purcell also co-directed the Sydney drama Here Out West, which is also vying for the 2022 AACTA Award for Best Film.

Another nominee for the coveted directing award is actor, writer and director Thomas M. Wright, for his critically acclaimed feature The Stranger. Premiering in Cannes' Un Certain Regard section, The Stranger is a psychological crime thriller, characterised by unconventional and somewhat experimental film techniques. This is Wright’s first nomination for Best Director in Film, though his debut film Acute Misfortune (2018) was nominated for the AACTA Award for Best Indie Film.

Also nominated for their first AACTA Awards in the direction category are Hannah Barlow and Kane Senes, for their queer, horror-comedy Sissy. With an extensive list of credits in the short film space, Barlow and Senes’ Sissy is a breakthrough for the creatives who are up against industry heavyweights. Notably, Sissy is categorised as a horror-comedy or slasher, which is a genre yet to win the pinnacle Best Film AACTA Award.

Founder of Filmology Finance, Jack Christian says, “Filmology Finance is proud to present the AACTA Award for Best Direction in Film. This year’s range of nominees, from iconic Australian directors who have been exemplars of the industry for decades, to ground-breaking up-and-comers who have just begun making waves, demonstrates the incredible depth of Australian talent. It is fantastic to see an appreciation for such a diverse range of films, across a variety of genres, by these unique creatives.”

The 2022 AACTA Awards will be presented across two ceremonies on Monday, 5 December and Wednesday, 7 December. Wednesday’s ceremony will be broadcast on 10, at 7.30pm, and will be encored on Fox Docos, Saturday, December 10 at 7:30pm. The broadcast will also be available to stream on demand via Foxtel, Binge and AACTA TV.


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