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 The World of Film in Australia - on the Internet Updated Tuesday July 28, 2020 


Once just a film appreciation society made up of general public members who love movies, the Australian Film Institute has finally taken the step after 53 years towards forming a professional structure along the lines of an Academy to fully integrate the industry into its mission – and moves the awards to a more appropriate slot in the calendar: January.

The Australian Film Institute is reviewing its strategic aims and programs with a view to building a refined and more inclusive professional structure, which will result in the establishment of an ‘Australian Academy’. The first significant change is to move the awards ceremony from Melbourne to Sydney and from December 2011 to late January 2012. This allows the industry to include many more projects from 2011 in the awards and brings the Australian film and television awards in line with the international system and buzz around the Golden Globes Awards, Academy Awards and BAFTA Awards.

"unifying of common purpose and effort makes such good sense"

AFI Patron Dr George Miller says in support of the AFI proposed changes, “The importance of community, screen culture and the pursuit of excellence, driving forces of the AFI for over 50 years, cannot be underestimated. These factors were pivotal to our industry’s acceleration from the late 60’s and are certainly no less important today. The 21st Century offers immense opportunities and the AFI’s proposed development of an Australian Academy cleverly adapts successful elements of the world’s leading screen organizations to local traditions. This unifying of common purpose and effort makes such good sense. It’s a very exciting proposal”.

AFI Advisor Greg Coote, who has been instrumental in developing the proposed vision says, “Since the 1970s renaissance the Australian screen community has grown exponentially and its potential is undoubtedly immense. More than ever it’s critical that a national and international Australian screen community is nurtured. With a long and rich tradition, the AFI Professional Membership is well placed to be developed into a more universally recognizable and understood model, an Australian Academy. The establishment of an Australian Academy is not just overdue, but eminently possible and extremely useful”.

Coinciding with this announcement, two new board members have been appointed. Sigrid Thornton, one of Australia’s leading actresses, and Jennifer Huby, partner at TressCox Lawyers. They replace retiring members Peter Thompson and Todd Sampson.

"substantial and promising review"

“As the AFI undertakes this substantial and promising review,” says AFI Chair, Alan Finney, “we welcome the arrival of Jennifer Huby and are delighted Sigrid Thornton has returned to the AFI. Peter Thompson made many fantastic contributions over four years and whilst a director for a briefer period Todd Sampson’s support was also invaluable. I sincerely thank them both. We are determined to make the AFI relevant to all sectors of our very broad Industry and we are looking forward to working to achieve this.”

Renato Rispoli has been appointed AFI Awards Event Director reporting directly to AFI CEO, Damian Trewhella. Renato was formerly with Events NSW and played an integral role in the return of the AFI Awards to Sydney.

AFI CEO Damian Trewhella comments “While audiences for Australian television continue to grow en masse, among many achievements, we have been delighted to see the 2010 AFI Best Film Animal Kingdom go on to an Oscar nomination for Jacki Weaver, and 2010 AFI Best Short Animation The Lost Thing go on to win an Oscar. Alongside such great achievements, the return of the AFI Awards Ceremony to Sydney after a decade provides the chance for a very special celebration of excellence in January 2012. Renato Rispoli’s recent decision to join the team at this time is most welcome.” 

Editor’s note: The creation of an Academy was first mooted by Urban Cinefile’s editor Andrew L. Urban in 2004 and generated some discussion within the industry. We now welcome the developments at the AFI.

Published June 2, 2011

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AFI Patron, Dr George Miller

AFI Chair, Alan Finney

AFI Board member, Sigrid Thornton

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