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Australian Academy lauds ‘Artist’

Wins best pic, actor and helming nods at org's first awards ceremony

“The Artist” took top picture, actor and directing honors at the first Australian Academy of Cinema and Television Arts Intl. Awards Friday evening.

Michel Hazanavicius was named best director at the inaugural ceremony, while “The Artist’s” Jean Dujardin and “The Iron Lady’s” Meryl Streep landed the acting nods. Voters were tied on screenplay honors, so awards went to both “Ides of March” and “Margin Call.”

AACTA prexy Geoffrey Rush announced the winners in five categories at an intimate West Hollywood ceremony at Soho House.

“As our industry becomes a truly global entity, it is fitting that the new Australian Academy recognizes the industry’s best, both at home and abroad,” Rush said.

Although the Australian Film Institute has been in existence for more than a half-century, the academy was created last summer as a professional offshoot and modeled after the branch structure of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.

“We’re hoping it’s the beginning of a great tradition,” said AACTA CEO Damian Trewhella.

Trewhella said AACTA has between 1,500 and 2,000 members and is looking to grow further. The group is also looking ahead to a second developmental phase, which includes opening an office in Los Angeles to promote Australian productions in the U.S.

The AACTA Intl. Awards are designed to honor film excellence regardless of geography, as determined by a jury of Australian entertainment professionals.

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