Wayne Blair’s drama looks set to dominate Australia’s premiere awards. 
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29 Jan 2013 - 8:26 AM  UPDATED 29 Jan 2013 - 8:26 AM

In what could be a curtain raiser for Wednesday night's Australian Academy of Cinema and Television Arts Awards, The Sapphires nabbed five AACTA trophies in craft categories on Monday.

Director Wayne Blair's drama based on the real-life story of an Aboriginal singing group that shot to fame in the 1960s was prized for Warwick Thornton's cinematography, editing, production design, costume design and sound.

The top-grossing Australian film in 2012 with $14.4 million, it's up for a further six awards on Wednesday night: best film, direction, actress (Deborah Mailman), actor (Chris O'Dowd), supporting actress (Jessica Mauboy) and adapted screenplay (Tony Briggs, Keith Thompson). The Weinstein Co., which bought multiple-territory rights to the film in Cannes last year, has confirmed it will launch in the US on March 22.

At Monday's awards luncheon Iron Sky took the visual effects award, Storm Surfers 3D was named best feature documentary and Then The Wind Changed, which chronicled a community's struggle to rebuild in the years following the 2009 Victorian bushfires, was best doc under one hour. Fighting Fear, which focuses on pro-surfer Mark Mathews and MMA fighter Richie Vaculik, collected the best docu director award for Macario De Souza and best doco cinematography.

In the TV categories, tabloid newspaper satire Lowdown – Season 2 was declared best comedy series, Agony Aunts took the light entertainment series gong and The Adventures of Figaro Pho, about a phobia-stricken boy, all from the ABC, won the children's series award. SBS's Go Back To Where You Came From was judged best documentary series. Patrick Brammall won best performance in a TV comedy for the ABC's A Moody Christmas. Julian, which looks at a day in the life of a fearless nine-year-old schoolboy, was honoured as best short fiction film and The Hunter was best animated short.

Producer Al Clark accepted the Raymond Longford Award for lifetime achievement, which recognises his body of work including The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert, Chopper, Blessed and Red Hill.

The in-memoriam segment paid tribute to many film, TV and literary figures including actors Bille Brown and Ben Gabriel, director Albie Thoms, producer Jan Sharp, former TV executives Len Mauger, Ian Kennon, Alan Bateman and Mike Lattin, author Bryce Courtenay, former singer/presenter Edith Bliss, publicist Suzie Howie, TV host Ian Turpie, producer/host Digby Wolfe, and underwater photographer Ron Taylor.

The full list of winners is here.

Silver Linings Playbook dominated the AACTA International Awards which were presented on Sunday local time in Los Angeles, winning best film, director (David O. Russell) and lead actress (Jennifer Lawrence). That film also figured in two additional awards bestowed by the Australian Film Institute | AACTA Board of Governors: best supporting actor to Robert De Niro for his performance as an obsessive, compulsive football-crazed father, and supporting actress to Jacki Weaver as his tolerant wife. Quentin Tarantino took the screenplay award for his Western Django Unchained.