Inaugural AACTA Awards

Inaugural Samsung AACTA Awards

The Story

The story of the inaugural Samsung AACTA Awards began in August 2011 when the Australian Film Institute (AFI) launched the Australian Academy of Cinema and Television Arts (AACTA) and a new Awards program.

Although the former AFI Awards (which began in 1958) were typically held annually in December, the inaugural Samsung AACTA Awards were held in January 2012 to integrate with the international awards season that includes the Oscars and the BAFTAs.

Historic Awards Events

The inaugural Samsung AACTA Awards season saw a total of eight events held on two continents.

Kick-starting the season in style was the launch of the Australian Academy on 18 August 2011, held at the Overseas Passenger Terminal, overlooking the stunning Sydney Harbour.

The first ever AACTA Award nominees - non feature nominees - were announced on 31 August 2011.

Next up was the Samsung AFI | AACTA Festival of Film, which screened each of the films vying for an AACTA Award. The Festival ran from 6 October until 14 November 2011, with two opening night events held (in Melbourne and Sydney).  Awards entrant The Hunter was screened to open the Festival, with cast and crew in attendance to introduce the film.

The next event was the inaugural Samsung AACTA Awards nominations announcement held at Sydney’s National Institute of Dramatic Arts (NIDA) on 30 November 2011.

Internationally awarded animator, writer and director Adam Elliot joined actors Alexandra Schepisi, Daniel Henshall and Claudia Karvan to announce the nominees, which confirmed the strength of Australian film and television in 2011.

Highlighting the reach and diversity of nominees, the nominations were spread across 14 Feature Films (out of a possible 21), 14 Documentaries, four Short Animations, six Short Fiction Films and 23 Television


The next events of the season were held simultaneously in Los Angeles and Sydney on 14/15 January 2012.

The LA event saw Jacki Weaver announce the nominees of AACTA’s first ever AACTA International Awards at the prestigious G’Day USA LA Black Tie Gala. The announcement was beamed into the inaugural Samsung AACTA Awards Luncheon presented by Digital Pictures, held at Sydney’s Westin Hotel.

The Luncheon was hosted by acclaimed actress and AFI Board member Sigrid Thornton, supported by some of Australia’s best performers and practitioners attending to present Awards, including Rhada Mitchell, Rebecca Gibney, Rob Carlton, Susie Porter, Bruce Beresford, Fred Schepisi and entertaining

Oscar® winner Adam Elliot, to name a few.

The Luncheon saw the first ever AACTA Awards recipients announced, with Awards presented to talented and innovative artists and craftspeople working across the television, documentary, short fiction film, short animation and feature film categories.

Highlights of the event were the announcement of Ivan Sen as the recipient of the Byron Kennedy Award, and Don McApline as the recipient of the prestigious AACTA Raymond Longford Award, the nation’s highest screen accolade, accompanied by moving and insightful tributes from director Bruce Beresford, and long time friend and colleague Jack Thompson.

Next up was the AACTA International Awards Ceremony held at the stunning So Ho House in Los Angeles on 27 January 2012, recognising international excellence across five categories: Best

Film; Best Direction; Best Screenplay; Best Actor; and Best Actress.

Winners were announced by internationally acclaimed Australian performers and practitioners: AACTA President Geoffrey Rush; Nicole Kidman; Russell Crowe; Phillip Noyce; Liam Hemsworth; and, Bella Heathcote.

Highlights of the AACTA International Awards Ceremony included heart-felt and entertaining winner acceptance speeches from Meryl Steep (Best Actress) and Jean Dujardin (Best Actor).

The inaugural AACTA Awards season culminated in a spectacular and stylish Samsung AACTA Awards Ceremony at the Sydney Opera House on Tuesday 31 January 2012, at which the final inaugural AACTA Awards winners were announced.

Broadcast on the Nine Network, presenters included AACTA President, Geoffrey Rush, Ambassador, Cate Blanchett, Russell Crowe, Anthony and Jonathan LaPaglia, Rachael Taylor and Adam Elliot.

Winners included RED DOG, which took home the prestigious Samsung AACTA Award for Best Film. Judy Davis was awarded Best Actress for her role in The Eye Of The Storm, whilst Best Actor went to Daniel Henshall for his role in Snowtown.

The inaugural Awards also marked AFI | AACTA’s 25th year of celebrating Australian television excellence, with The Slap (ABC1) receiving the most AACTA Awards (a total of five) in the television categories.

The Winners

AFI | AACTA congratulates all recipients announced across 49 categories as the Australian Academy’s inaugural winners. For a full list of the inaugural AACTA Awards nominees and winners, click here.