By Pacific Media Watch
Balibo, a film about the murder of five Australian-based journalists by Indonesian troops before the invasion of East Timor in 1975, has topped this year’s AFI Awards nominations.
The critically-acclaimed political thriller received 14 nominations, including one for best film, best direction and best actor for Anthony LaPaglia.
LaPaglia played Roger East, a sixth journalist executed while investigating the earlier killings.
The Balibo Five television journalists murdered during a border raid by Indonesian special forces soldiers dressed as militia shortly before the full invasion included New Zealander Gary Cunningham.
In what has been a bumper year for Australian cinema, the hotly-contested best film field also features Samson And Delilah, Beautiful Kate, Blessed, Mao’s Last Dancer and Mary And Max.
“I think it goes without saying, 2009 has been a massive year for the Australian film industry,” said Underbelly actor Peter O’Brian, announcing the nominations in Sydney.
The year’s highest grossing film, Baz Luhrmann’s Australia, claimed nine nominations but mostly in technical categories.
Hugh Jackman and Nicole Kidman were notably absent from the best actor and actress categories, but young star Brandon Walters has been recognised with a best supporting actor nod.
TV dramas Underbelly, Packed To The Rafters, False Witness and East West 101 received multiple nominations in the television categories.
The ABC’s Spicks And Specks and The Gruen Transfer have been nominated for best light entertainment series.
Winners will be announced over two nights in December.