• Byron Kennedy Award recipients Martin Butler and Bentley Dean use stage time to talk about Aboriginal Australia and the need for Treaty. (NITV News)Source: NITV News
'We want a treaty, it's time.'
NITV Staff Writer

7 Dec 2017 - 11:35 AM  UPDATED 7 Dec 2017 - 11:35 AM

The Australian Academy of Cinema and Television Arts (AACTA) Awards recognised film, television and documentary screen craft beauty on Wednesday at the Star Event Centre in Sydney. But that's not all that was recognised at the prestigious award evening.

Martin Butler and Bentley Dean, Australian directors of the Oscar-nominated film Tanna, received the Byron Kennedy Award and used their stage time to express disappointment at the federal government's recent response to the Uluru Statement from the Heart.

"We want a treaty, it's time."

The statement, released by the Referendum Council in May, called for a constitutionally-enshrined advisory body and a commission to oversee treaty- making and truth-telling.

"It was really disappointing when the Australian government dismissed it off hand," Dean expressed.

"We want a treaty, it's time."

Butler elaborated on the pair's disappointment that the government had shown: "they weren't going to do anything" with the statement.

"We felt at the time when the statement came out - and it had been years in negotiation - that here was a really, heartfelt, generous offer from the Aboriginal people for a route to true reconciliation," Butler told reporters.

Dean said the issue was "not going away".

"I think it's one of those things that make common sense," he said.

More than 50 awards were handed out at Sydney's Star Event Centre at Australia's highest film and television Awards.

The night kicked off with starts like Russell Crowe, Simon Baker and Nicole Kidman rocking down the ruby red. Guy Sebastian opened the Ceremony with a performance of Bloodstone, but the night closed with a stellar performance from Torres Strait songstress, Christine Anu, who was recently awarded for her contribution to First Nations' Music at the Australian Songwriting Awards.

Lion Movie picked up the AACTA Award for Best Film presented by Foxtel, marking a clean sweep for the film, which won in all twelve of the categories it was nominated for. The film's Sunny Pawar became the youngest actor to receive the Best Lead Actor Award, a record that was previously held by Simon Burke, who was 15-years-old when he received the Award for THE DEVIL'S PLAYGROUND 41 years ago.

This year Indigenous filmmaking was recognised unlike ever before as five Indigenous-made productions were nominated, showing Australia is increasingly recognising and embracing Indigenous storytelling.

The AACTA awards is Australia's equivalent of the Oscars, enabling filmmakers to set their careers on an established platform.

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