Rush president of new academy, AACTA
An Australian Film Institute (AFI)-hosted launch party this evening named Geoffrey Rush founding president of the newly titled Australian Academy of Cinema and Television Arts (AACTA), at the Overseas Passenger Terminal, Circular Quay.
Introducing Rush, AFI patron Dr George Miller said, “There is a handful of people who have won the triple crown acting, the Oscar, Emmy and Tony, and he’s the only one to win these awards and an AFI.”
As president, or ‘prez’ as he called himself, Rush announced the name of the new academy, the Australia Academy of Cinema and Television Arts (AACTA), which he suggested sounded like a Sydney drag queen.
Addressing the launch, Rush said, “I am honoured to represent our industry as president of the newly-formed Australian Academy. Over half a century ago the AFI was founded and since that time our film and television industries have developed beyond our wildest imaginings. Through the timely creation of AACTA we have a unique opportunity to galvanise the craft and talent this country endlessly produces,” before adding, “You’d be an idiot not to realise Australians are among the best artists in front and behind the camera.”
“Now is the time to celebrate at home and abroad the brilliance and originality of our seasoned screen professionals, and establish AACTA as a stamp of success – a measure which is recognised around the world as the mark of excellence it represents.”
Alan Finney, AFI Chairman, spoke of Rush’s appointment. “We are delighted to announce Geoffrey Rush as the Founding President of our Academy. A multi AFI Award winner, and a recipient of the AFI Raymond Longford Award, the highest honour we bestow on an individual, Geoffrey has also won an Oscar, an Emmy, a BAFTA and a Tony.
“He has been awarded at the highest levels by the industry here and internationally, and is celebrated by audiences around the world for his excellence within the arts – an incredible feat with few comparisons.”
“We are delighted that Geoffrey will be leading AACTA at such an important time for our organisation and for the industry as a whole.”
Despite the academy forming, the AFI will remain and AFI CEO Damian Trewhella will also become the AACTA CEO.
Trewhella explained the establishment of the Academy took place over a 12 month review process involving consultation with individuals, guilds and other organisations, as well as an industry-wide survey.
Key changes included new memberships, a new two-step feature film voting model “which sees AACTA members short list nominees based on their area of specialisation, with the short list then voted on by the wider AACTA membership.”
Also appointed was an honorary council – ‘a group of individuals recognised as leaders and luminaries within their fields, who lead the Academy’s pursuit of excellence and assist with policy directions which augment this.’
The council appointed to date include: Jack Thompson, Abbie Cornish, Fred Schepisi, Jan Chapman AO, Claudia Karvan, Adam Elliot, Emile Scherman, Peter James ACS ASC, Deborah Mailman, Jessica Hobbs, Jan Sardi, Stuart Beattie, Rolf de Heer, Cappi Ireland, Tony Murtagh, David Hirschfelder, Aphrodite Kondos, Antony Partos, Elizabeth Drake, Ian Gracie, Jonathan Chissick and Andrew Mason.
Screen guild and professional association nominees include: Antony I Ginnane (former SPAA president), Jacqueline Woodman (Executive Director, Australian Writers Guild), Ray Argall (President, Australian Directors Guild) Simon Whipp (Director, Equity Section, Media Entertainment and Arts Alliance), Ron Johanson ACS (President, Australian Cinematographers Guild), Jason Ballantine ASE (President, Australian Screen Editors), Trevor Harrison (President, Australian Screen Sound Guild), George Liddle (Secretary, Australian Production Design Guild), and Jo Smith (Executive Director, Australian Guild of Screen Composers).
Other industry members so far appointed include: Mike Baard (Managing Director Universal Pictures Australia, also AFI Director), Mike Selwyn (Managing Director and Vice President Australia/New Zealand, Paramount Pictures), David Seargeant (Managing Director, Amalgamated Holdings Ltd), Christoper Mapp (Managing Director, Omnilab Media), Bob Campbell (Executive Director, Screentime), Greg Coote (Chairman, Latitude Entertainment), Natalie Miller (Cinema Nova/Sharmill Films), Chris Puplick (Chair, NFSA), Tony Forrest (Chief Executive Officer, Movie Network Channels) and Stuart O’Brien (CEO, Ogilvy & Mather Sydney).