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AFI Awards touches down in Oz

Rush hosts country's biggest film, TV party

MELBOURNE — Last year Shane Jacobson worked at the AFI Awards as a portajohn operator, and this year Cate Blanchett presented him with the best actor trophy for his title role in the portajohn comedy “Kenny” at the AFI Awards Thursday.

Geoffrey Rush hosted Australia’s biggest annual film and TV party at the Melbourne Entertainment Center. The event featured a phalanx of visiting (and resident) Oz thesps as presenters.

Eric Bana, Sarah Wynter, Sam Neill, Abbie Cornish, Baz Luhrmann and Catherine Martin presented trophies, while Dame Edna, Johnny Depp, Billy Crystal and Stephen Frears sent video clips.

Rush jived onto the stage to Prince’s “Kiss” then dazzled with his deadpan delivery, most of it scripted but some off the cuff. “That’s alright — indifferent tittering is the new laughing,” he chided the audience.

He declared Emily Barclay “the most beguiling sociopath we’ve seen since “Chopper” for her role in “Suburban Mayhem.”

Ledger won a popularity trophy voted by readers of News Limited newspapers and asked, “What is it exactly?”

When he received the international actor trophy for “Brokeback Mountain,” Ledger thanked the pic’s creators Annie Proulx and Ang Lee before adding, “The best thing I got out of (“Brokeback”) was two girls” — a reference to his co-star/wife Michelle Williams and their daughter.

Television and movie awards were dominated by indigenous stories, with “RAN” (Remote Area Nurse) topping the TV kudos and “Ten Canoes” topping film kudos.

“Ten Canoes” co-directors Peter Djigirr and Rolf de Heer did a nifty double act with Djigirr accepting the award in Yolngu language and with de Heer translating.