Did you know that the inaugural Samsung AACTA Awards marks the 25th year in which the AFI | AACTA has awarded excellence in television categories? Television Awards were first given out in 1986. No nominees were annouced that year, but winners were announced in ten categories around Mini Series and Telefeatures.
Fast forward to 2011/2012, and we have nominees in 13 television categories. These include Children’s Television Series, Comedy Series, Light Entertainment and of course Television Drama and Telefeature, Mini Series or Short Run Series.
You can see full listings of the nominees over on the AACTA website, but in the lead up to the AACTA Awards in January, we’re writing a two-part piece to provide you with insights and further reading on the high quality of our television drama nominees. In this post, we look at the nominees in the Best Television Drama Series and Best Telefeature, Mini Series and Short Run Series, and I’m sure you’ll agree, it’s been a great year for Australian drama on the small screen.
AACTA AWARD FOR BEST TELEVISION DRAMA SERIES
And the nominees are:
• East West 101, Season 3 – The Heroes’ Journey. Steve Knapman, Kris Wyld. SBS
• Offspring, Season 2. John Edwards, Imogen Banks. Network Ten
• Rake. Ian Collie, Peter Duncan, Richard Roxburgh. ABC1
• Spirited, Season 2. Claudia Karvan, Jacquelin Perske. FOXTEL – W
In this category, for which the producers accept the Award, we have four strong contenders. East West 101, the tense SBS cop drama set in multicultural Sydney, won this Award back in 2009. Producers Steve Knapman and Kris Wyld have had great success in the crime and cop genres over the years, beginning their work as a writing/producing team with their acclaimed ABC drama series Wildside (1997-99). You can read more at the Knapman Wyld Television website.
Offspring, Season 2, the Network Ten romantic drama which has become appointment viewing has in the opinions of many, proved to be even stronger in its second season. Last year, Deborah Mailman won an AFI Award for Best Supporting Actress in a Television Drama for her role as the bubbly Cherie, while John Waters was nominated for Best Supporting Actor in a Television Drama for his part as the lothario Proudman patriarch. This year, the series itself is nominated with producers John Edwards and Imogen Banks up for the Award. John Edwards, of Southern Star Entertainment, has been responsible for numerous AFI Award winning television dramas including The Secret Life of Us, Marking Time, Love My Way, Tangle, Rush and many more. Read more about Edwards here. Imogen Banks has been twice nominated for AFI Awards alongside Edwards: for her work on Tangle (2010) and Dangerous (2007).
Rake, the witty and hilarious ABC1 series about a rascally and rogueish criminal barrister (played by Richard Roxburgh), is a strong contender, with its fearless lead character and wicked plotlines. The series was created by Roxburgh, Charles Waterstreet and Peter Duncan (Children of the Revolution, Unfinished Sky) – and Duncan was also co-producer with Ian Collie, co-writer with Andrew Knight, and director of two episodes. You can read Encore’s on-set interview with Collie and Duncan here.
Spirited, a supernatural romantic comedy, screened on Foxtel’s W channel, sees leading lady and producer Claudia Karvan, along with co-writer and producer Jacquelin Perske up for the Award for this second series. They’re two women quite familiar with winning AFI Awards, having collected a swathe of them for their acclaimed drama series Love My Way (a show that was nominated for 18 AFI Awards and won eight over its three series). News that Spirited has just been renewed for a third series has the show’s ardent fans cheering. Visit the show’s official website here.
AACTA AWARD FOR BEST TELEFEATURE, MINI SERIES OR SHORT RUN SERIES
And the nominees are:
• Cloudstreet. Greg Haddrick, Brenda Pam. FOXTEL – Showcase
• Paper Giants: The Birth Of Cleo. John Edwards, Karen Radzyner. ABC1
• Sisters Of War. Andrew Wiseman. ABC1
• The Slap. Tony Ayres, Helen Bowden, Michael McMahon. ABC1
Cloudstreet, Foxtel’s beautiful three-part mini series based on Tim Winton’s beloved book, is up against three ABC productions in this category. Producers Greg Haddrick (Head of Drama for Screentime) and Brenda Pam have previously collaborated on Underbelly: A Tale of Two Cities, and Haddrick is a three-time AFI Award winner and an accomplished screenwriter (MDA, Underbelly). With a talented and cohesive ensemble cast (wonderful casting by Mullinars), and superb production values, Cloudstreet is nominated for a total of eight AACTA Awards and is destined for a long life on DVD and blu-ray and will be in many a Christmas stocking this year. Check out the official website here.
The two-part Paper Giants: The Birth of Cleo was a surprise hit on the ABC when it screened in April this year. The true tale of a brave young editor, Ita Buttrose (Asher Keddie) at the helm of Australia’s sexual revolution with Cleo, the magazine that reflected new freedom for women also featured a pitch perfect performance by Rob Carlton as a youthful Kerry Packer. (Both Keddie and Carlton are nominated for their performances in this production). Prolific producer John Edwards (see Offspring above) has a hand in this one too. To explore the show more, visit the official website here.
Sisters of War, the 97-minute telefeature first screened on ABC1 in November 2010, is based on the true story and war diaries of a nurse and a nun held prisoner of war by the Japanese in Papua New Guinea in 1942. Starring Sarah Snook, Claire van der Boom and Susie Porter, this is a story about women in extreme circumstances, and their extraordinary courage and will to prevail. (Snook and Porter are nominated for their work here, but more on that in a future blog post.) Sisters of War was written by John Misto (Days of the Roses, The Damnation of Harvey McHugh), directed by Brendan Maher (The Road From Coorain, After The Deluge) and produced by Andrew Wiseman. Wiseman, up for this AACTA Award, has previously been nominated for a number of AFI Awards, and has won twice (My Brother Jack, After the Deluge). Screenhub‘s interview with Wiseman can be found here.
The eight-part short run series The Slap, up for a total of eight AACTA Awards, managed to be ‘watercooler television’, in the same way that the original novel by Christos Tsiolkas was a ‘BBQ stopper’ and book club favourite. In this Award category, the nominees are producers Tony Ayres, Helen Bowden and Michael McMahon, who are partners in the prolific local production company Matchbox Pictures (along with fellow producers Penny Chapman and Helen Pankhurst). Michael McMahon has won an AFI Award previously, for Best Documentary (Wildness, 2003) and was nominated for Best Film for The Home Song Stories, in 2007. Helen Bowden has also been nominated twice before, for Best Film (Soft Fruit, 1999) and Best Documentary (Girl in a Mirror, 2005). Tony Ayres is a writer and director as well as a producer (he directed two episodes of The Slap – ‘Richie’ and ‘Manolis’) and won two AFI Awards in 2007 for his semi autobiographical feature film The Home Song Stories. Find out more about Matchbox Pictures at their website.
The winners of the AACTA Awards for Best Television Drama Series and Best Telefeature, Mini Series or Short Run Series will be announced at the inaugural Samsung AACTA Awards Ceremony on Tuesday 31 January 2012 and broadcast on the Nine Network. Stay tuned for our post next week covering the nominees for Best Direction in Television, Best Screenplay in Television, Best Lead Actor and Actress in Television Drama, and Best Guest or Supporting Actor and Actress in Television Drama.