Geoffrey Rush warns AACTAs may disappear after losing naming sponsor

Australia’s peak film and television awards may be the second screen industry awards to disappear in 2012 due to lack of sponsorship, actor Geoffrey Rush has warned.

The Australian Academy of Cinema and Television Arts Awards, in its second year after relaunching from the Australian Film Institute Awards, is seeking a naming rights sponsor, following Samsung discontinuing its five year relationship.

Geoffrey Rush, president of the AACTAs told, Mumbrella’s sister title Encore: “We’re hoping to find someone who can identify their company as a sponsor of the second year of the Australian Academy because we’d hate to see, for financial reasons the whole thing come to an unnecessary fullstop… or dash.”

In April, Inside Film announced the IF Awards would not run in 2012 due to sponsorship competition and a ‘lack of funding options’.

The estimated value of the AACTA Awards sponsorship is $750,000 but it is believed a new sponsor could get on board for about $500,000.

Rush, however said that while the industry is struggling, creatively it has momentum.

“I keep a close eye, as president of the AACTAs, on the Australian film and television industry and I feel we are in the midst of a robust and interesting time.”

“As a patron of the Melbourne film festival, this year we had three major films, Mental, The Sapphires opened and Save Your Legs. In and around that Kath & Kimderella has come out and is doing great box office and The Sapphires has started to break box office records.”

“On TV, whether it’s Howzat or Rake, or Robert Connolly’s Julian Assange story screening at the Toronto International Film Festival that played to great acclaim, these are the kinds of stories that five years ago just weren’t happening and there’s a very solid momentum.”

Rush said the aim of last year’s relaunch was to align with the BAFTAs and the American Oscars, “but at the same time maintaining an individual Australian context around it, and we want a company that all Australians can be proud of.”

“We’ve worked specifically to give it a brand that is interesting and vital, that is not too jingoistic,” he said.

The Awards were last year held over three ceremonies in January. One was industry facing, acknowledging technical craft of the industry; another was a more public facing ceremony, televised on Nine, while an international awards ceremony held in Los Angeles acknowledged international films and actors.

The AACTAs receive support from Destination NSW and Screen Australia.

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