Entertainment Babyteeth wins Best Film at AACTA Awards and sweeps film categories
Updated:

Babyteeth wins Best Film at AACTA Awards and sweeps film categories

Babyteeth director Shannon Murphy, producer Alex White, Eliza Scanlen, Jan Chapman and casting director Kirsty McGregor. Photo: Getty
Share
Twitter Facebook Reddit Pinterest Email

Australian coming-of-age drama Babyteeth, directed by Shannon Murphy, has swept the film categories for the AACTA Awards, Australia’s equivalent of the Oscars.

The film, which stars Eliza Scanlen as a teenager with cancer who falls in love for the first time, was nominated and won in 12 out of 13 possible film categories this yea.

These included Best Film, where it was up against Leigh Whannell’s horror reboot The Invisible Man (starring Elisabeth Moss) as well as Helen Reddy biopic I Am Woman, punk adaptation The True History of the Kelly Gang, coming-of-age dramedy H is for Happiness, and horror film Relic.

A scene from 2019 film Babyteeth featuring Eliza Scanlen. Photo: Lisa Tomasetti/Universal Pictures

Murphy, producers Jan Chapman and Alex White and leading lady Eliza Scanlen were among those in attendance at a pared-back ceremony at The Star in Sydney on Monday, where tables and guests were spaced out according to COVID-safe regulations.

Accepting the award for best actress, Scanlen, who made her film debut in 2019 playing Beth in Greta Gerwig’s Little Women, said: “This film [Babyteeth] changed my life.”

The actor recently came out of hotel quarantine after returning to Australia from filming for M Night Shyamalan’s existential horror pic Old in the Dominican Republic.

“I feel very lucky to have still been able to work during lockdown,” she said.

“It was strange knowing that the rest of the world was still so limited in what they could do.”

She said that coming out of quarantine, she was “very grateful that we as a country are implementing a system to combat the virus,” and is optimistic about the local industry.

“In some ways, we’re thriving. There’s a lot of films coming to Australia – and I hope that continues. I think it will.”

Speaking about the different experiences of shooting big-budget American features like Little Women and The Devil All The Time versus low-budget Australian films like Babyteeth, the actor said she relished the hands-on experience of the latter.

“It was a really collaborative process … everyone was a very active part of the film, and you had to be because it was a small [cast and crew],” Scanlen said.

The AACTA Awards come at the end of a year in which the Australian screen industry has faced production shutdowns and cinema closures due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Russell Crowe, recently appointed president of the Australian Academy of Cinema and Television Arts alongside Nicole Kidman as vice-president, used his address to urge viewers of the ceremony to support the local industry.

“I don’t see it [president of AACTA] as a symbolic position,” the actor said, explaining he took on the gig because, “I think I can be of some assistance in raising the level of ambition and hope within our academy and, by extension, the film industry.”

He urged the federal government to support the local screen industry in the wake of the pandemic and facilitate the rise in Australian-based production in recent months.

“Given the right support, the screen industry can be used as a powerful driver for economic recovery,” Crowe said.

Delivering a pre-recorded speech from “the bush”, Crowe was nevertheless well represented at the ceremony by a table of cardboard cutouts of his best-known characters from films including Gladiator, Master and Commander and Les Misérables.

Cardboard cutouts of Russell Crowe’s best-known characters stood in for the real thing at the 2020 AACTA Awards. Photo: Brook Mitchell/Getty

Babyteeth’s executive producer Jan Chapman said she’d like to see more government support for Australian films.

Speaking to ABC after the ceremony, Chapman said: “At the moment there’s a lot of support for overseas projects to come here.”

“What we must make sure is that we don’t lose sight of little independent films like this [Babyteeth] that create the true Australian industry, and tell Australian stories.”

Chapman is a veteran producer, with credits including Jane Campion’s The Piano, Ray Lawrence’s Lantana, and Jennifer Kent’s The Babadook – the latter of which won this year’s

Babyteeth’s executive producer, Jan Chapman, said she’d like to see more government support for Australian films.

Speaking to ABC after the ceremony, Chapman said: “At the moment there’s a lot of support for overseas projects to come here.”

Chapman is a veteran producer, with credits including Jane Campion’s The Piano, Ray Lawrence’s Lantana, and Jennifer Kent’s The Babadook — the latter of which won this year’s Byron Kennedy Award for “outstanding creative enterprise within the film industry”.

“[Films like these] are going to be harder to make when there are funds to attract bigger international films here, which will be taking up studios and crews. You need a complementary system for the Australian-made films,” said Chapman.

“We need funding, incentives for Australian films, in recognition that we need to keep developing our own talent.”

The second of two AACTA Award ceremonies, for the television and online awards, is set to follow the film ceremony, on Monday night.

AACTA winners

Film

  • Best film: Babyteeth
  • Best director: Shannon Murphy, Babyteeth
  • Best leading actress: Eliza Scanlen, Babyteeth
  • Best leading actor: Toby Wallace, Babyteeth
  • Best supporting actress: Essie Davis, Babyteeth
  • Best supporting actor: Ben Mendelsohn, Babyteeth
  • Best original screenplay: Rita Kalnejais, Babyteeth
  • Best cinematography: Stefan Duscio, The Invisible Man
  • Best indie film: Standing up for Sunny
  • Best documentary: Firestarter – The Story of Bangarra
  • Best Asian film: Better Days
  • Byron Kennedy Award: The Babadook

A full list of nominees and winners across all categories is available via the AACTA.

ABC