Australia, that powerhouse in entertainment, feted 15 Oscar nominees from Down Under and New Zealand at the Australian consul general’s residence Wednesday in Brentwood.
While celebrating the noms — 10 for Australia and five for New Zealand — Peter Ritchie, head of Australians in Film, said, “My mission here in L.A. is to open doors for some of the excluded and undiscovered writers and directors who could be the next Oscar nominees.”
With Melanie Annan, editor of the nominated doc short “Three Songs for Benazir,” Ritchie said, “Australian influence is not necessarily only on Australia, but around the world.”
Consul-general Jane Duke congratulated all the nominees. “You are really extraordinary,” she said. “You should be deservedly proud of this amazing recognition. We’re all proud for you. I’ve said this before but it bears repeating. All of you are fantastic assets and important for our soft power. Through your talent, through your creativity, your determination and your drive you’ve chased such success in the United States, the world’s biggest stage. We’re just wishing you on and all the best. And whatever happens you’re all amazing people and jewels and I’m excited to see your careers progress here.”
Among the attendees were the Oscar nominees of Netflix’s “The Power of the Dog,” including director Jane Campion, DP Ari Wegner, editor Peter Sciberras and set decorator Amber Richards.
Richards said the awards hoopla was “quite a new experience for me, very interesting seeing the other side because we are so far away from this world. When you are making the film you are just purely concentrating on delivering a great product. … I’ve never even socialized so much in my life. I’m enjoying being picked up in a car and being taken to events.”
Wegner said of her nomination, “It’s the last gender-neutral category that hasn’t been won by a woman and only two nominations in 94 years, I’d say it’s time, but also two nominations in the past five years so that feels like good progress as well.”
DP Dion Beebe pegged the reason “why Australians travel so well to the U.S. is largely due to the required inventiveness of working in Australia, working with very limited resources. Making films in Australia, the crews are tiny and you just have to figure it out to get it done. When Australians travel here, those skills, those abilities to just make it work travel well and are appreciated.”
Sciberras said he was enjoying being among other editors, including Oscar-nominated editors, as well as attending other awards ceremonies such as the ACE Eddies. “It’s been great to know them, I’ve admired their work for a long time,” he said. “And it’s nice to see them in person and not on Zoom.”
Touching on a sour topic, he said of the Academy’s decision to not show the eight category winners accept their Oscars live, “a little disappointing. It feels like it diminishes the experience slightly.” He added that it felt “weird” that those eight were singled out. “It feels like it should be all or nothing. But it’s my first time so I’m trying to enjoy myself and not worry too much about that.”
Greig Fraser, the Oscar-nominated DP of “Dune,” called it “incredibly short-sighted. I understand of course that there is time restrictions and they want to boost ratings and that’s all very admirable, but it’s overkill and it’s poorly thought out. I’d be happy to say that directly to the people who said that to try and to undermine such fantastic crafts as editing, production design, sound, critical tasks and the act of doing that relegates them to a different category, different world and I think it’s really really unwise and short-sighted and I look forward to it not occurring next year.”
Fraser is looking forward also to the second installment of “Dune,” which the same team is working on even as he and others involved in both films were making the awards rounds. “It’s wonderful to see the accolades, wonderful. And obviously my collaborators are also being celebrated but I think we’re just really ready to make another one.”
(Pictured: Peter Ritchie of Australians in Film, director Jane Campion, consul-general Jane Duke and DP Ari Wegner.)