Australian Movie Convention salutes 'Boy' and 'Mao'

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The 2010 Australian International Movie Convention is over, but a very successful event it was. At the closing-night gala, Avatar won awards for highest-grossing film in both Australia and New Zealand. The highest-grossing New Zealand film was Boy and top local film for Australia was Mao's Last Dancer, which has just opened in the U.S. The top-grossing foreign-language film was the soon-to-be-remade The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. Jacki Weaver, lead actress in Animal Kingdom, was named Australian Star of the Year.

Earlier at the Convention, the independent distributors celebrated a great year with A$169 million at the box office. The Australian Independent Distributors Association presented awards to several cinemas including Rialto Newmarket Auckland for Best NZ cinema. Australian cinemas won the following awards: Best Independent Regional Cinema to Avoca Beach Picture Theatre, Best Multiplex to Event Cinemas Bondi Junction, and Best National Independent Urban Cinema to Luna Palace Cinemas Perth.

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Several Australian directors are returning home to make a local feature for the first time in many years. P.J. Hogan (My Best Friend’s Wedding) will be reuniting with Toni Collette for Mental (Universal), which has been described as The Sound Of Music on acid. Stephan Elliott (The Adventures of Priscilla, Easy Virtue) will make his first Aussie film in 20 years, A Few Best Men. This broad comedy, written by Dean Craig (Death at a Funeral), follows an English groom as he goes Outback to marry an Australian bride. Casting is now underway. Alex Proyas (Knowing and I, Robot) will direct Dracula: Year Zero in 2011 with local actor Sam Worthington for Universal.

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Richard Sheffield, a former managing director of Universal International Australia, will head up new local independent distributor, Pinnacle Films. Based on the Gold Coast, the company's first films will be Australian thriller The Reef and the China-U.S. drama Snow Flower and the Secret Fan in early 2011.

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Jane Scott has initiated legal action against co-distributors Village Roadshow and Hopscotch for "non-payment of full royalties due" on Mao’s Last Dancer. Because the film was being released on DVD in Australia prior to theatrical release elsewhere in the world, the DVD was to be equipped with Ripguard copy protection. This was not done in the initial release and the DVDs were recalled and replaced with copy-protected discs. Scott argues that the distributors are taking the DVD recall costs from the producer’s royalties.

E-mail your Australia/New Zealand news items to David Pearce at insidemovies@hotmail.com.