Warwick Thornton’s acclaimed western Sweet Country won six awards at the Australian Academy of Cinema And Television Awards (AACTA) yesterday in Sydney.

The haunting tale of an Aboriginal man who is hunted after shooting a white man in self defense scooped best film, best direction, best original screenplay, best cinematography, best editing, and best lead actor for Hamilton Morris.

Other significant winners were Nicole Kidman as best supporting actress in Boy Erased and Joel Egerton for the same film’s adapted screenplay. Simon Baker won best supporting actor for his role in Breath while Ladies In Black earned four awards.

Multi-award winner Mystery Road took home the prize for best drama series and Riot won best mini-series. Veteran actor Bryan Brown was honored with the Oz industry’s highest accolade, the Longford Lyell Award.

Many stars attending the event wore blue ribbons to protest against Australia’s treatment of asylum seekers and to send a message to politicians. Thornton called Australia’s detention of asylum seekers and refugees on Nauru and Manus Island “disgusting, childish and ridiculous.”

Meanwhile, Boy Erased star Kidman conveyed a message about the importance of cinema and stories outside the blockbuster mainstream. “These films are hard right now. They’re hard to get audiences for. They’re hard to get made,” Kidman said. “You know, I’m also in Aquaman. That is not hard to get made. It’s a whole different thing and it’s nice to be fun. But this is where you go ‘please go and see these movies’ because otherwise we won’t have the chance to make them anymore.”

The Oz Academy found itself in an embarrassing situation in the build up to the awards as local media published a letter the organization reportedly sent to its former president Geoffrey Rush — who has been fighting an ongoing legal battle related to a harassment scandal — imploring him to return as president and apologizing for having “failed” him.