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New feature film eligibility policy and Online Video or Series Award announced

Launching the 2017 Awards season, AACTA today announced a new eligibility policy for feature films and introduced a new Award – the AACTA Award for Best Online Video or Series.

Following AACTA’s changes to the Feature Length Documentary jury process earlier this year, the announcements reinforce AACTA’s commitment to ensuring relevancy and best practice. The feature film eligibility policy changes and the new Online Video or Series Award aim to drive further innovation within the industry and create opportunities to further the next generation of Australian storytellers by making the AACTA Awards processes even more inclusive.

AACTA also today called for entries across feature film, documentary, short film, television and online categories, with the 7th AACTA Awards presenting over 50 peer-assessed awards, celebrating Australian stories, culture and creativity on the big and small screens.



Following extensive industry consultation, AACTA has announced a new feature film eligibility policy for the 7th AACTA Awards in response to increasing feature film volumes in the ever-changing screen industry landscape and to allow for greater diversity and inclusivity.

Historically, feature films have been able to enter and proceed to competition for the AACTA Awards either through Direct Eligibility (via traditional theatrical release), or Pre-Selection (a jury-assessed pathway designed to allow a wider range of films, that don’t meet the direct eligibility criteria, to be considered on merit and not their distribution model).

In 2017, AACTA will be replacing this two-tier process and the Pre-Selection jury with a single clear pathway that lessens the potential barriers to entry. As part of the new and more accessible eligibility policy, AACTA is broadening the definition of a ‘theatrical release’ to include major local and international film festival screenings (including MIFF, SFF, Adelaide Film Festival, CinefestOz, GCFF, FFS and Mardi Gras Film Festival – a full list of qualifying film festivals can be found on the PDF download). AACTA’s revised policy also makes considerations for releases outside of a commercial cinema setting, such as VOD and SVOD platforms.

All films meeting the new eligibility criteria will be entitled to compete for the 7th AACTA Awards, creating greater inclusivity for those films that take a less traditional release path.

AFI | AACTA CEO Damian Trewhella said:

“The landscape of the film industry is constantly changing, with more and more Australian films having non-traditional releases in an increasingly challenging theatrical environment. One of the key changes to the feature film eligibility policy this year acknowledges and embraces the significant role Australian film festivals play in the discovery and fostering of local screen talent and, with the increasingly global nature of the industry, the contribution of international film festivals toward the recognition of some of our best and most innovative works.

“We know that AACTA Award wins and nominations can generate huge exposure and positive outcomes for Australian films. After receiving the AACTA Award for Best Original Music Score and a further four nominations at the 6th AACTA Awards, TANNA continued to gain great international profile and reception, culminating in becoming the first Australian film to be nominated for the Oscar® for Best Foreign Language Film. Other films such as HACKSAW RIDGE (2016), THE ROCKET (2013) and THE SAPPHIRES (2012) also saw exceptional boosts in profile in Australia and overseas after their AACTA Award wins, with all films going on to receive numerous accolades internationally.

“We believe the new feature film eligibility policy achieves a more inclusive approach to the determination of the feature films in competition and opens the pathway for a broader diversity of films and filmmakers. All of us at AACTA are looking forward to seeing which outstanding Australian practitioners, performers and productions will be in competition this year.”



On the back of the abundance of exciting Australian digital content gaining huge viewer numbers and critical acclaim (both locally and internationally), the AACTA Award for Best Online Video or Series has been introduced in consultation with Screen Australia and other key organisations working in the online video and series space, including the Australian Online Video Awards and the ABC.

The inaugural Award will be open to scripted Australian productions that are intended primarily for online release and viewing. The nominees of the category will be determined by a panel of jurors with substantial experience in the field of online production and commissioning, with the winner to be determined by AFI and AACTA member voting.

Speaking of the new award, AFI | AACTA CEO Damian Trewhella said he hoped the award would help propel the careers of those nominated and awarded.

“Over the last couple of years a wealth of Australian content has been made specifically for online viewing, with hits including BONDI HIPSTERS, THE KATERING SHOW, The RackaRacka’s VERSUS, DAFUQ?, AUNTY DONNA: 1999, and STARTING FROM…NOW! which concluded in 2016 following five successful seasons.

“With Screen Australia’s Multiplatform Fund and other progressive funding initiatives including ABC’s Long Story Short and Fresh Blood, and Google’s Skip Ahead, the scope for online specific-content is only growing.

“AACTA is proud to extend the reach of our awards into dedicated online content, marking an exciting new pathway for recognising Australian talent working in the burgeoning online space.”


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