Australian Academy Awards: Jennifer Kent’s ‘The Nightingale’ Triumphs With Quartet Of Major Prizes


Jennifer Kent’s thriller The Nightingale has taken home a quartet of prizes at the 2019 Australian Academy of Cinema and Television Arts Awards (AACTA, formerly AFI) in Sydney.

Kent’s period piece won Best Direction, Best Screenplay and Best Film, making Kent, who also produced, the first woman to receive awards across all three categories for the same film in the same year. The film’s female lead, Aisling Franciosi, received the Best Lead Actress prize.

The Nightingale follows a young Irish convict who chases a British officer through the rugged Tasmanian wilderness, bent on revenge for a terrible act of violence he committed against her family. Also producing were Bruna Papandrea and Steve Hutensky of Made Up Stories and Kristina Ceyton of Causeway Films.

Bong Joon Ho’s lauded Cannes winner Parasite scored the AACTA Award for Best Asian Film. The award was presented to the South Korean film’s producer Kwak Sin-ae by Simu Liu, star of Marvel Comics’ upcoming film Shang-Chi and the Legend Of The Ten Rings, and Indian-Australian Actress Pallavi Sharda.

Damon Herriman received his first AACTA Award in a feature film category, winning Best Lead Actor for Judy & Punch. The award marks Herriman’s second consecutive AACTA Award, having received Best Lead Actor in a Television Drama last year.

Screen veteran Sam Neill accepted the Longford Lyell Award, Australia’s highest screen accolade. The Award was presented to Neill by George Miller, with tributes from Meryl Streep, Taika Waititi and Jane Campion, among others.

First AD P.J. Voeten was announced as the recipient of the Byron Kennedy Award which celebrates “outstanding creative enterprise” within the screen industry, particularly for his work on Mad Max: Fury Road, Aquaman and hit series Lambs Of God.


In TV, Lambs Of God won Best Telefeature or Miniseries while Total Control won the Best Drama Series prize and saw Deborah Mailman and Rachel Griffiths take home Best Lead Actress in a Television Drama and Best Guest or Supporting Actress in a Television Drama, respectively.

The inaugural AACTA Award for Best Factual Entertainment went to Rose d’Or winning series You Can’t Ask That with Lego Masters Australia taking home the AACTA Award for Best Entertainment Program. The AACTA Award for Best Comedy Program went to The Letdown which also saw Alison Bell receive her first AACTA Award for Best Performance in a Television Comedy, having received nominations in the category three times previously.

Mr Inbetween‘s Scott Ryan took home the AACTA Award For Best Lead Actor In A Television Drama, having won the AACTA Subscription Television Award for Best New Talent in 2018, and four time AFI | AACTA Award winner and fourteen time nominee Richard Roxburgh won the AACTA Award for Best Guest or Supporting Actor in a Television Drama for his role in The Hunting.

The AACTA Award for Best Documentary went to The Australian Dream about AFL legend Adam Goodes while the Award for Best Documentary or Factual Program went to Old People’s Home For 4 Year Olds. In the online space, the AACTA Award for Best Online Drama or Comedy went to Dylan River’s Robbie Hood.

Additional TV awards went to Love It Or List It Australia for Best Lifestyle Program, and Australia Survivor: Champions vs Contenders, which won Best Reality Series for the second consecutive year and marked their third consecutive AACTA Award nomination in the category.

AFI | AACTA CEO Damian Trewhella said, “It is a momentous occasion here tonight as we celebrate the fine achievements of our industry. We are thrilled that this year has seen some of the strongest and most diverse stories shine across a range of platforms, from feature film and television, to documentary and the ever expanding online space, the Awards this evening have recognized the tremendous vibrancy of our creative community and contributions to both the Australian and global screen industries.”

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