Still from Deeper than Yesterday (2009) by Ariel Kleiman.

VCA alumni win big at the AACTA Awards

Five Victorian College of the Arts alumni were among the winners of the 7th Annual AACTA Awards, which were presented at an awards ceremony in Sydney on Wednesday 6 December.

Oscar-nominated alumnus filmmaker Bentley Dean and his filmmaking partner Martin Butler were announced as this year’s recipients of the Byron Kennedy Award for outstanding creative enterprise within the film and television industries. Their 2017 film Tanna received Australia’s first and only nomination for Best Foreign Language Film at the 89th Academy Awards.

First given in 1984, the award honours Dr George Miller’s original filmmaking partner and Mad Max co-creator Byron Kennedy and includes a cash prize of $10,000. Previous winners include Baz Luhrmann, Jane Campion and Jill Billcock.

“Martin and Bentley are exemplary recipients of the Byron Kennedy Award,” said Dr Miller. “Their integrity shines through all their endeavours. Because of this, they are held in the highest regard by their collaborators and audiences all over the world.”

Top of the Lake: China Girl, co-directed by Film and Television alumnus Ariel Kleiman (with Jane Campion), swept the television categories, picking up four awards including Best Television Drama Series.

Kitty Green (Bachelor of Film and Television, 2007) took out the Best Feature Documentary category for her Netflix documentary Casting JonBenet about the infamous murder of child beauty pageant queen JonBenet Ramsey.

Glendyn Ivin (Graduate Diploma in Film and Television, 1998) won Best Direction in a Television Drama or Comedy for ABC’s Seven Types of Ambiguity, which won five of the seven categories it was nominated in.

Zahra Newman (Bachelor of Dramatic Art, 2008) won the Subscription Television Award for Best New Talent category. She appears as Iman Farah in Foxtel’s television series Wentworth, and also stars as Nabulangi in the original Australian production of Trey Parker and Matt Stone’s award-winning musical The Book of Mormon.

Head of VCA Film and Television Nicolette Freeman said: “We’re both proud and delighted to hear of our graduates being acknowledgement by the Academy for their creativity and contribution to screen culture and wider societal conversations.”

The Australian Academy of Cinema and Television Arts (AACTA) Awards are a continuum of the AFI Awards, which have honoured screen excellence in Australia since 1958. Visit the AACTA Awards website for more of this year’s winners and nominees.

Banner image: Still from Ariel Kleiman’s graduating VCA film Deeper than Yesterday (2010).