AUSSIE POWER: Australia’s red carpet ante is about to be upped when the premier film and television awards Down Under are renamed, relocated and moved to a new time slot next month. Originally launched in 1958 as the Australian Film Institute (AFI) Awards, the event was recently rechristened the Australian Academy of Cinema and Television Arts Awards, after the creation of the brand-new Australian Academy. Beginning in 2012, the awards are migrating to Sydney from their longtime Melbourne home and being held a month later than usual so as to better sync with the awards season internationally.
And just like the Oscars, the new version will be split into two parts. The winners of AACTA’s technical awards will be revealed at a lunch at Sydney’s Westin Hotel on Jan. 15. Simultaneously — as facilitated by a live satellite hookup between the two venues and the 13 hour time difference between the two cities — the nominees for AACTA’s inaugural International Awards for Best Film, Acting, Direction and Screenplay will be revealed at the G’Day USA Black Tie Gala in Los Angeles on Jan. 14. A posse of Australian stars is expected to attend the L.A. party, which famously first introduced Nicole Kidman to future husband Keith Urban back in 2005. Then, on Jan. 31, the main AACTA Awards will take place at the Sydney Opera House. With high-profile Australians such as AACTA’s founding president Geoffrey Rush, Sam Neill, Hugo Weaving and Frances O’Connor competing against Charlotte Rampling, Emily Watson and Willem Dafoe in the acting categories for their roles in local productions “The Hunter,” “The Eye of the Storm” and “Oranges and Sunshine,” the event already has more of an international flavor than ever before.