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Byron Kennedy Award

The Byron Kennedy Award is an award presented by the Australian Academy of Cinema and Television Arts (AACTA), a non-profit organisation whose aim is "to identify, award, promote and celebrate Australia's greatest achievements in film and television."[1] The award is presented at the annual AACTA Awards Ceremony, which hand out accolades for technical achievements in feature film, television, documentaries and short films.[2] From 1984-2010, the award was handed out by the Australian Film Institute (AFI), the Academy's parent organisation, at the annual Australian Film Institute Awards (known as the AFI Awards).[3] When the AFI launched the Academy in 2011, it changed the annual ceremony to the AACTA Awards, with the current award being a continuum of the AFI Byron Kennedy Award.[3]

Byron Kennedy Award
Awarded for"Outstanding creative enterprise within the film and television industries... whose work embodies the qualities of Byron Kennedy: innovation, vision and the relentless pursuit of excellence."
Presented byAustralian Academy of Cinema and Television Arts (AACTA)
First awarded1984; 35 years ago (1984)

Named after Byron Kennedy (18 August 1949 – 17 July 1983), an Australian film producer, it recognises a person in their early career for "outstanding creative enterprise within the film and television industries... whose work embodies the qualities of Byron Kennedy: innovation, vision and the relentless pursuit of excellence."[4] Recommendations for recipients are made by the general public, but the AFI and Academy may also select further candidates without the need for an entry. The award includes a A$10,000 cash prize.[5]


Year Name Notes Ref(s)
1984 Roger Savage "for his innovative and pioneering work in film and television sound." [4]
1985 Andrew Pike "for his unorthodox and comprehensive contribution to the film industry." [4]
1986 Nadia Tass and
David Parker
"for their fiercely independent approach to filmmaking." [4]
1987 Martha Ansara "for her uncompromising use of film as a vehicle for consciousness- raising and her consistent help to filmmakers at the beginning of their careers." [4]
1988 George Ogilvie "for the profound wisdom of his work in theatre, film, television and ballet, and his highly influential workshops on ensemble performance." [4]
1989 Jane Campion "for her innovative, highly individual and uncompromising work in writing, producing and directing a body of outstanding films and television programmes which have gained recognition both in Australia and overseas." [4]
1990 Dennis O'Rourke "for his consistent innovation as an artist in the field of documentary." [4]
1991 John Duigan "for an impressive and original body of work both as writer and director, and through that work, his discovery and encouragement of new talent." [4]
1992 Robin Anderson and
Bob Connolly
"whose films are not only fine documentaries - they are great human dramas. They will allow no obstacle to divert their single-minded pursuit of excellence." [4]
1993 Adrian Martin "a writer, teacher and critic, and a brilliant enthusiast who can inspire even the most jaded audiences." [4]
1993 Matt Butler "a pioneer of computer assisted cinematography and a world leader in specialist experimental film techniques." [4]
1993 Evonne Chesson "a wonderful animal trainer who worked on everything from Breaker Morant [1980] to The Silver Brumby [1993], and who contributed extraordinarily to the Australian film industry." [4]
1993 Gary Warner "an administrator, curator and champion of the new electronic arts technologies, who keeps Australian media and artists in touch with the newest and the best the world has to offer." [4]
1994 John Hargreaves "not only for the brilliance and daring of his acting, but for his ability to inspire. When Hargreaves is around, everybody gives their best." [4]
1995 Jill Bilcock "Jill's stylish and effervescent approach to life, determination to excel and creativity shine through. Many have owed their start in this business to her generous sharing of some of the great mysteries of film." [4]
1996 Laura Jones "for her consistent and passionate pursuit of excellence as a screenwriter. Her rigour and integrity serve to inspire all those who work with her." [4]
1997 John Polson "for his founding of the remarkable and charismatic Tropicana Short Film Festival. From its very humble beginnings in 1993 Tropfest has become the leading event of its kind in the world." [4]
1998 Alison Barrett "one of Australia's foremost casting agents." [4]
1998 Arthur Cambridge "colour grader of at least 300 Australian feature films, which is more than half of the Australian industry's output since the early 1970s." [4]
1999 Baz Luhrmann and
Catherine Martin
"for their process of ‘Total Filmmaking’. Never conventional, they immerse the whole team, from actor to editor, in experimentation and pre-visualisation. In this way, they evolve a comprehensive aesthetic which informs everything, from the concept to poster, with flair. The results, always groundbreaking, speak for themselves." [4]
2000 Popcorn Taxi
(founded by Matt Wheeldon and Gary Doust)
"Two spirited, grassroots enterprises fuelled by nothing but reckless enthusiasm and love of cinema. Popcorn Taxi and IF Magazine are the antidote to the beancounters who forgot to ask where ideas and innovation come from, if you strangle film culture." [4]
Inside Film Magazine
(founded by Stephen Jenner and David Barda)
2001 Ian David "is a truth matter what the cost. His screenplays for Blue Murder [1995] flag the high water mark of Australian television drama. Beyond that, he is a selfless campaigner for artist's rights. The truth at any cost...These days, his is a rare voice. It is to be cherished." [4]
2002 Rachel Perkins "for her vast amount and breadth of her work as writer, director, producer, executive producer and instigator across drama, documentary and television; for her dynamism and creativity; for her outstanding ability to inspire others and work collaboratively; and for her passionate championing of indigenous filmmaking and filmmakers." [4]
2003 Dion Beebe "for his unique and daring eye used through a wide range of styles from the documentary Eternity [1994] to the films of Jane Campion Holy Smoke! [1999] and In the Cut [2003] and Gillian Armstrong Charlotte Gray [2001] to the 2002's Academy Award winner, Chicago [2002]." [4]
2004 John Clarke "for his works of sustained excellence and for the inspiration he presents to all of us in his roles as poet, playwright, actor, author, director and producer." [4]
2005 Chris Kennedy "Production designer Chris Kennedy represents the best qualities of Australian film crews. Too often working with low budgets, he tackles each film with wit, love and late nights. Inspired in his resourcefulness he will always push beyond the superficial and ordinary. His work has enhanced our cinema for the last two decades...from Death in Brunswick [1991], through Angel Baby [1995] to The Proposition [2005]." [4]
2006 Rolf de Heer "for his unflagging artistic courage across an astonishing body of work from Bad Boy Bubby [1993] to Ten Canoes [2006]. Rolf de Heer is a fearless explorer of cinema and humanity. He has achieved what no other filmmaker has done; taken Australian culture globally while being recognised as one of world cinema's most daring and unique artists." [4]
2007 Curtis Levy "for his dedication to the art of documentary over the past twenty-five years and his continued questioning of the status quo. A modest and courageous man who has directed and produced films of great relevance, technical skill and humanity; from his award-winning films The President Versus David Hicks [2004] and Hephzibah [1998] to Sons of Namatjira [1975]." [4]
2008 Chris Lilley "for his unique, multidimensional skills as an actor, writer and producer. His groundbreaking series’ We Can Be Heroes: [Finding The Australian of the Year] [2005] and Summer Heights High [2007], at once poignant and hilarious, mark him as an incisive observer of our national culture and a potent artist relentlessly in search of excellence and truth." [4]
2009 Ray Brown "Legendary grip, gentleman, statesman and unsung hero. For his superb, solution-orientated management skills, his spirited advocacy of the industry and for his full-hearted mentorship and support of movies great and small. For those who strive for excellence...Brownie is the exemplar." [6]
2010 Animal Logic "for aesthetic and technical excellence in computer graphic imaging. Under the stewardship of Zareh Nalbandian, this visual effects house has risen with the digital revolution to become one of the world's leading facilities." [4]
2012 Ivan Sen "for his unique artistic vision and for showing us, by his resourceful multidisciplinary filmmaking, that telling stories on screen is in reach of all who have something consequential to say." [7]
2013 Sarah Watt "for her brave, innovative filmmaking. Painter, photographer, animator, she brought consummate skill and elegance to the live action form. Without pretension, her work broke all the rules, yet her singular view connected to a wide audience by its profound emotional honesty." [8]
2014 Australian Cinematographers Society "for its enduring and pivotal role in the pursuit of excellence throughout Australian cinema. With its cohort of world-renowned cinematographers, the ACS is about enhancing skills, exploring new technology and passing on knowledge to those who follow in their footsteps. Their enthusiasm and generosity of spirit makes them the backbone of our industry." [9]
2015 Amiel Courtin-Wilson "for his risk taking and evocative storytelling. Amiel has been patiently searching for truth and beauty at the margins of society, making films which have captured the attention of international audiences." [4]
Adam Arkapaw "for his pursuit of excellence and devotion to the art of cinematography. His work, already acknowledged as virtuosic and innovative, is always in the service of the story. [4]
2016 Lynette Wallworth "for her innovative use of virtual reality and her tireless work pushing the boundaries of screen, using emerging technologies and visionary artistic media to engage audiences around the world in new, innovative experiences." [4]
2017 Martin Butler and Bentley Dean "in recognition of their ten-year low-tech partnership which has focused on genuine collaboration with Indigenous communities to produce some of the most emotionally compelling stories ever seen on screen." [4]
2018 Ian Darling "for his brave, innovative and wide-ranging pursuit of excellence. “All of Ian's endeavours are about social impact,” said Dr. George Miller. “His approach is global and synergistic – uniquely effective in forging strong and productive coalitions of storytellers, filmmakers, funders, distributors, and strategic thinkers.” [4]


  1. ^ "AACTA - The Academy". Australian Academy of Cinema and Television Arts (AACTA). Archived from the original on 24 June 2012. Retrieved 27 July 2012.
  2. ^ "AACTA - The Academy - The Awards". Australian Academy of Cinema and Television Arts (AACTA). Retrieved 27 July 2012.
  3. ^ a b "AACTA - The Academy - Background". Australian Academy of Cinema and Television Arts (AACTA). Retrieved 27 July 2012.[permanent dead link]
  4. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x y z aa ab ac ad ae af ag ah ai aj ak "Byron Kennedy Award Winners: 1984 - 2016" (PDF). Australian Academy of Cinema and Television Arts (AACTA). Retrieved 2 January 2018.
  5. ^ "Rule 11 - Byron Kennedy Award" (PDF). 2013 AACTA Awards Rule Book. Australian Film Institute. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2012-10-29. Retrieved 27 July 2012.
  6. ^ "Ray Brown - 2009 Byron Kennedy Award winner". Australian Film Institute (AFI). 2009. Archived from the original on 20 March 2012. Retrieved 27 July 2012.
  7. ^ Brendan Swift (15 January 2012). "AACTA unveils first round of awards". Inside Film. Retrieved 27 July 2012.
  8. ^ Byrnes, Holly; Roach, Vicky (30 January 2013). "Sarah Watt received prestigious Byron Kennedy Award at the AACTAs in a moving posthumous honour". News Limited. Retrieved 11 February 2013.
  9. ^ Groves, Don (18 December 2013). "Unique accolade for Australian Cinematographers Society". Inside Film magazine. Retrieved 1 January 2014.

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