The Australian Academy has announced this year’s competing feature films alongside its launch of the Festival of Australian Film.

A record-breaking 35 feature films will compete in the 7th Annual AACTA Awards following the Australian Academy’s changes to film eligibility policies. Five films have been nominated for Best Feature Length Documentary, including Casting Jonbenét, David Stratton: A Cinematic Life, Deep Water: The Real Story, Whiteley and Zach’s Ceremony. 

“Through the establishment of our Documentary Branch, we’ve been pleased to open up the nominations process to all of our AACTA members with documentary credits,” says Australian Film Institute and AACTA CEO Damian Trewhella. “By engaging with the larger documentary community, we’ve seen overwhelming engagement and an increase in votes, which showed five clear nominees from our thriving documentary industry.”

The nominees for Best Feature Length Documentary exemplify a vast array of breathtaking Australian stories. Deep Water: The Real Story portrays the untold tale behind Sydney’s gay hate crimes of the 1980’s and 1990’s, while David Stratton: A Cinematic Life allows us to follow the life and cinematic experiences of one of Australia’s greatest film critics.

AACTA says 2017’s pick of films has seen a 74 per cent increase of female filmmakers and a significant increase of first-time filmmakers receiving nominations. This year’s nominations showcase some of Australia’s promising young actors, including Angourie Rice, Levi Miller, Ed Oxenbould and Sunny Pawar, who took the Oscar’s by storm following his role as the young Saroo in Lion.

two indigenous kids face off in front of harbour bridge

‘Zach’s Ceremony’. Image: Supplied

Other competing films include Berlin Syndrome, The Butterfly Tree, Red Dog: True Blue, Rip Tide, Jasper Jones and The Death and Life of Otto Bloom.

The Festival of Australian Film will be returning to Sydney in later this month, offering preview screenings of Ali’s Wedding, the winner of Sydney Film Festival’s Foxtel Movies Audience Award for Best Feature. The Festival of Australian Film will also be presented in Melbourne, Perth and for the first time in nine years, Brisbane. Screen Queensland CEO Tracy Vieira welcomes the screenings to Brisbane: “The Festival of Australian Film is just one of 23 festivals and events Screen Queensland is supporting in 2017 and 2018, ensuring Queenslanders across the state have access to a range of innovative content from traditional cinema to new platforms.”

The four week festival will run from late August to September and most feature films are available on AACTA’s platform, AACTA TV which is accessible to all AFI and AACTA members.

Round One voting will take place at the Festival of Australian Film and remaining nominees will be announced in October.

The 7th AACTA Awards presented by Foxtel will be held on Wednesday December 6 and televised on Channel 7.
Tickets will go on sale in early October.
More info here