Some of the biggest names in Australian screen have used the red carpet of the Australian Academy of Cinema and Television Arts (AACTA) awards to send subtle messages to politicians and the wider industry, but Nicole Kidman had a message for moviegoers.
The Australian actor took home the AACTA for her supporting role in Boy Erased, moments after urging audiences to look past the blockbusters.
Boy Erased, which was nominated for best film, is based on the true story of a teenager put through conversion therapy in the United States not that many years ago.
It was directed by Joel Edgerton, who appears beside Kidman and Russell Crowe in the film.
“These films are hard right now. They’re hard to get audiences for. They’re hard to get made,” Kidman said.
“You know, I’m also in Aquaman. That is not hard to get made. It’s a whole different thing and it’s nice to be fun.
“But this is where you go ‘please go and see these movies’ because otherwise we won’t have the chance to make them anymore.”
The film was made in the US, but is nominated in the Australian AACTA awards because its director, Edgerton, is a local.
This year was the first time the Australian awards recognised an American film with substantial local input.
“I don’t know about bending the rules, I’m just grateful the film is being seen,” Kidman said.
A year after revelations about Harvey Weinstein and in the shadows of allegations of sexual harassment by Australian star Geoffrey Rush, several stars insisted times were changing for women in the industry.
On the red carpet, the sentiment on female participation was one of cautious optimism despite the categories for best director, screenplay, cinematographer, editor, sound and original score featuring only male nominees.
Kidman said women in the industry were “trying to carve paths that should have been carved years ago”.
“We’re all really uniting as women and as a culture and there are so many supportive men and we’re trying to make massive changes for the next generation as well.”
Janet King star Marta Dusseldorp said representation was “the only thing anyone is talking about right now”.
Packed to the Rafters star Erik Thomson said change was happening.
“I sense in any writers room, in any situation I’ve been in in the last year or so, it’s always at the forefront of the discussions we have,” he said.
As expected, many stars wore blue ribbons to protest against Australia’s treatment of asylum seekers and to send a message to politicians.
“People don’t like it when you make noise. But you’re supposed to. You’re supposed to make noise,” Julia Zemiro said.
Australian actor Simon Baker was nominated for his directorial debut for the movie Breath.
He wore a blue ribbon on the red carpet, saying it was about both public awareness and pushing for political change.
“I guess in a lot of ways it’s to galvanise the politicians in this country to make a conscience decision as opposed to a political decision,” he said.
Indigenous man and Sweet Country director Warwick Thornton also wore a blue ribbon and had a powerful perspective on the debate.
“We are Australians, we are beautiful humans and we look after each other. And we look after other people,” he said.
“Literally every family has come here on a boat. You might have been born here, but your family came here once on a boat, maybe an aeroplane, maybe they walked across a land bridge in an ice age.
“We make sure we look after people who need help. How ridiculous is it in 2018 that we’re having this conversation?”