Julia Leigh, who helmed Sleeping Beauty, is among the four nominees for best feature film director in the Australian Directors Guild's (ADG) upcoming awards.
What makes Leigh's inclusion noticeable is that she was ignored in this category in the Inside Film (IF) Awards last November, the Australian Academy of Cinema and Television Arts (AACTA) in January and the Film Critics Circle (FCCA) Awards this month. This was despite the film, about a young woman who allows herself to be regularly drugged into unconsciousness for money, being in competition at the Cannes Film Festival last year and a contender for the Sydney Film Festival's Sydney Film Prize.
ADG general manager Kingston Anderson would not name the three judges who decided she should be recognised by her peers but described them as “very experienced” feature film directors and “a heavyweight committee”. About 90% of the features released in cinemas qualified for the members-only award, he added.
Fletcher has also received little attention on the local award circuit for his directing but Mad Bastards has attracted many significant nominations including best film and best original screenplay at the AACTA Awards, and for the Independent Spirit IF Award, which the drama won. (Mad Bastards also had its day in the international sun, via a spot in the Sundance Film Festival, although this does not match the dizzy heights of being chosen by Cannes selectors).
Kurzel and Stenders have gone into battle three times with Kurzel winning the AACTA and FCCA Awards and Stenders winning the IF Award from a smaller field that only included one other, Michael Rymer (Face to Face). The other key Australian directors of 2011 were Fred Schepisi The Eye of the Storm) and Daniel Nettheim (The Hunter), both nominated for AACTA awards, and Jonathan Teplitzky (Burning Man), who scored an FCCA Award nomination for Best Director.
Fletcher, Kurzel and Leigh were all debut feature directors but Leigh had not made a film of any kind before Sleeping Beauty, although she had earned considerable acclaim for the novels The Hunter, which was adapted for the screen by others, and Disquiet.
In the documentary feature category, Tony Krawitz was nominated for The Tall Man, Rhys Graham and Natasha Gadd for Murundak: Songs of Freedom, Bob Connolly and Sophie Raymond for Mrs Carey's Concert, and Tom Zubrycki for The Hungry Tide.
Two directors have more than one ADG nomination: Matthew Saville for the 'Harry' episode of The Slap and for Cloudstreet; and Peter Andrikidis for an episode of East West 101 and Blood Brothers.
The awards will be held at Sydney's Maritime Museum on May 11.
For more information visit the ADG website.