Gongs for film about massacre gunman

Essie Davis is among eight AACTA Awards winners for her role in the film Nitram.
Essie Davis is among eight AACTA Awards winners for her role in the film Nitram.

A controversial film about the Port Arthur massacre gunman has won multiple gongs at the 2021 AACTA Awards.

American Caleb Landry Jones on Wednesday won Best Lead Actor in a Film for his portrayal of Martin Bryant, the gunman who carried out the 1996 massacre in southern Tasmania which killed 35 people and injured 23 others.

The film Nitram, which follows the life of Bryant in suburban Australia in the mid-1990s, was also named Best Film from among six nominations including The Dry.

"Everybody knows there are a lot of folks who didn't want it (the film) done and thought it was impossible to do, and that beautiful group of people, you know, proved otherwise," Landry Jones said by video link to the awards ceremony.

"So, by giving us these awards, you're saying you see it and respect it. And for that, I'm forever thankful."

Australian Judy Davis won Best Lead Actress in Film for her role as Bryant's mother and Anthony LaPaglia was named Best Supporting Actor in Film for the same production.

Tasmanian Essie Davis - known for Miss Fisher's Murder Mysteries - won Best Supporting Actress in a Film for her part in Nitram.

"It's a really important film and I'm proud to be a part of it," she said, accepting her award.

Justin Kurzel won Best Direction for the 112-minute film which also bagged Best Original Screenplay in a Film and Best Editing in a Film.

On the small screen, the ABC's The Newsreader took away five awards including Best Drama Series.

There was a tribute to Indigenous actor David Gulpilil, who received the Longford Lyell Award.

Favourite Television Host went to Gardening Australia's Costa Georgiadis, who dedicated his win to on-air predecessor Peter Cundall, who died just days earlier, aged 94.

The annual Australian Academy of Cinema and Television Arts International Awards was held in Sydney and attended by the who's who of Australian screen celebrities.

AACTA president Russell Crowe opened proceedings with a nod to the COVID-19-ravaged acting sector.

"It's been a tough couple of years for our industry but ... we are still managing to produce amazing work," the 57-year-old Hollywood star said.


* Best Film - Nitram

* Best Drama Series - The Newsreader

* Best Reality Program - Masterchef Australia

* Favourite Australian Film - The Dry

* Favourite Australian Actor - Eric Bana (The Dry)

* Favourite Television Host - Costa Georgiadis (Gardening Australia)

Australian Associated Press