‘Balloon’ floats off with Aussie love

Icon feature a hit with critics

SYDNEY — Icon’s “The Black Balloon” was declared best film and its director Elissa Down won the director prize at the Film Critics Circle of Australia Awards ceremony Feb. 13 in Sydney.

Awards capped a winning streak for the pic about a family’s struggle with their mentally disabled son portrayed by Luke Ford, and starring Toni Collette, who took actress kudos.

Palace Films’ “Unfinished Sky” won four awards, more than any other film; actor for William McInnes, editor for Suresh Ayyer, music for Antony Partos and script by helmer Peter Duncan.

Fox’s “Australia,” the only studio-backed film in contention, collected a supporting actor nod for newcomer Brandon Walters and cinematographer Mandy Walker.

Noni Hazlehurst was declared actress for her turn in indie financed “Bitter and Twisted.”

Joel Edgerton and Matthew Dabner took original screenplay kudos for actioner “The Square.”

Mark Hartley’s feature doc “Not Quite Hollywood” won feature documentary while Amiel Courtin-Wilson’s story of aboriginal actor Jack Charles “Bastardy” took the jury documentary prize.

Crix gave “Slumdog Millionaire” the foreign feature and “The Diving Bell and the Butterfly” the foreign-language film trophies.

Richard Brennan, who produced Gillian Armstrong’s “Starstruck” and Phillip Noyce’s “Newsfront,” among others, was acknowledged with the Life in Film award for his ongoing support of film culture in Australia.

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