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Qantas has Saturday night at the movies

Saturday night’s Qantas Film & Television Awards were the biggest night out in film and TV calendar, and not particularly Kiwi in style. However, it’s probably only in NZ that the red carpet passes behind a bus stop on its way to the theatre entrance.

Peter O'Toole

Award winner Peter O’Toole, for Dean Spanley

The bus shelter did excellent work acting as a windbreak and also providing visual respite from a few absolutely shocking frocks worn by attendees. Had the design police been out on the streets, there’d have been at least two arrests.

Despite the venue being very empty half an hour before kick-off, a late rush ensured the night got started on time, which was a relief to all with 39 awards to get through. MC Oliver Driver, this time accompanied by Pippa Wetzell, lived up to his name, keeping the proceedings moving briskly along, as he did at the Craft Awards yesterday.

Of the TV awards, TVNZ took the lion’s share, collecting 17 of the 25 on offer during the evening. Their tally was considerably boosted by dramas Until Proven Innocent and Piece of My Heart taking many of the drama awards between them.

Lippy Pictures’ Until Proven Innocent picked up both Best Actor (Cohen Holloway) and Best Supporting Actor (Peter Elliott), adding to the awards for Best Camera and Best Editing Drama/Comedy Programme and the show won at the Craft Awards.

Paula Boock and Donna Malane also picked up the Best Drama Programme for their first venture working together as Lippy Pictures. They’ve now got two more dramas in development with TVNZ.

Until Proven Innocent

Lippy Pictures’ Until Proven Innocent, the most-nominated show and a winner on both Friday and Saturday

In the film categories, The Six Dollar Fifty Man picked up three out of the four awards for short films, adding Best Performance in a Short Film and Best Short Film to its Best Screenplay award from the Craft Awards.

Oscar Vandy-Connor accepted his award with the words, “Thanks to the dudes who thought that the film was good because they made the right deerscision,” giving voice to what many winners wish they could say and get away with, and what most losers suspect winners wish they could say.

Great Southern Television’s Apron Strings added to its two Craft Awards for Best Cinematography and Best Production Design with both the Best Actor and Actress Awards for Scott Wills and Jennifer Ludlam respectively.

Dean Spanley ended the night with seven awards in total, although surprisingly for many, Sam Neill didn’t get the nod as Best Lead Actor. It took Best Screenplay for Alan Sharp and Best Director for Toa Fraser. Spanley’s award winners were almost all absent, not that anyone really expected Peter O’Toole to have made the trip to collect his Best Supporting Actor Award or Toa Fraser to swap balmy Hawaii for the tail end of an Auckland winter.

Best Film (under $1 million) went to Arani Cuthbert’s Topp Twins Untouchable Girls, directed by Leanne Pooley. The film was pitched at DOCNZ 07 and subsequently turned down by the networks which, according to Arani, turned out to be a blessing in disguise.

It’s now grossed over $1.9 million, making it the biggest-grossing documentary ever released here and one of the top ten domestic films of all time.

Pietra Brettkelly’s the art star and the sudanese twins picked up both Best Documentary and Best Director – Documentary to add to the Best Editing – Documentary/Factual it won at the Craft Awards.

Oliver was “very pleased and almost excited” to welcome Prime Minister John Key to present the inaugural New Zealand Trade and Enterprise International Achievement Award.

The Prime Minister, having done a fine turn poking good-natured barbs at all and sundry, including himself, announced Natural History New Zealand (NHNZ) as the winners.

Across the two events, the absentee winners were predominantly from the film categories. It’s perhaps just the geographics of the TV industry, being predominantly based in Auckland, that ensured a higher number of its winning finalists would be able to attend.

Congratulations to all the winners, to the organisers of a couple of very well-run events, and thanks to the judges who waded through the 639 entries in 61 categories to select finalists and eventual winners.

The list of craft gong winners is here. The full list of winners from Saturday’s event is here.