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FCCA Nominations for the films of 2021

The FCCA is pleased to announce the nominations for the Australian films of 2021.


Unfortunately, the FCCA will not be holding an awards event, due to a variety of reasons including lack of sponsorship, and the intervention of the Covid-19 pandemic.


However, as part of its aims as an organisation the FCCA wished to acknowledge the excellence in Australian film in 2021.



The 2021 nominations can be viewed here.


The award winners will be published on the 31st January 2022.





A brief overview of the 2021 Nominated Films

Notes & Research by Peter H Kemp



The Dry

Federal law-agent, Aaron Falk (Eric Bana) returns from the city to his now drought-stricken regional home town of Kiewarra, after an absence of over twenty years, to attend the funeral of his childhood friend, Luke (Martin Dingle Wall) who has allegedly killed his own wife and child before turning a high-powered shotgun on himself – the victim of the madness that has ravaged this community following more than a decade of relentless, rainless drought.


When Falk reluctantly agrees to stay and investigate the crime, he inevitably opens up another old wound: the death by drowning, also many years prior, of 17-year-old Ellie Deacon (BeBe Bettencourt). As he continues with his enquiries, Aaron is confronted by ghosts from the past, and begins to suspect that these two felonies, separated by many years, might actually be connected. Delving deeper and deeper into the knotty mystery, he must also deal with long-dormant enmities, bitter prejudice, and vicious hatred suddenly coming to surface. No one, not even Aaron, himself, it seems, is without sin, or above suspicion. Can the residents of Kiewarra handle the potentially shocking truths about to be uncovered?


Based on Jane Harper’s runaway best-seller, Robert Connolly and his collaborators have fashioned a polished, absorbing, slow-burning police-procedural made all the more watchable by Bana’s typically brooding, restrained central performance, itself backed up by a strong support cast ranging from Genevieve O’Reilly’s enigmatic love interest, and William Zappa’s aggressively menacing town bully to Miranda Tapsell’s stoic indigenous rural wife with a shameful secret.


“It’s the complexity of the characters that holds our attention while the story proceeds in almost laconic fashion. …The paradox of a film like The Dry is that those aspects which render it uniquely Australian such as the sweeping vistas of a sun-blasted landscape, dreamy flashbacks to bushland swimming holes, and the stubborn, inarticulate nature of the Aussie working classes, are so foreign to the murder mystery genre that it lends the entire production an air of unreality. …Throughout the movie we are never allowed to lose sight of the flat, dry landscape, the heat and the glare. It’s an Australian neo-noir conducted under a huge, sunny sky.”






High Ground


‘Taking the high ground’ holds both figurative and literal meanings in relation to this disturbing and visually spectacular screen drama. One definition can refer to assuming a more morally justified position on any given question, whilst the other describes a, more elevated, militaristic superiority in combat. Both connotations, for filmmaker, Stephen Maxwell Johnson, and screenwriter, Chris Anastassiades, provide cover for the kind of colonialism, violence, and destruction that invading powers have meted out for centuries to plunder, subjugate, and oppress at will, and which is memorably enacted in this striking piece of cinema.


After serving in World War One, as a combat sniper, Travis (Simon Baker), now a policeman in Northern Australia, loses control of an operation that results in the massacre of an Aboriginal tribe in 1919. After his superiors insist on burying the facts of the incident, Travis resigns in disgust, only to be coerced, twelve years later, to return to the region to hunt down a formidable antagonist: the ferocious and vengeful black warrior, Baywara (Sean Mununggur), whose attacks on new settlers and their properties, are causing violent havoc and mayhem. When Travis recruits, as his native tracker, young, mission-raised man, Gutjuk aka Tommy (Jacob Junior Nayinggul) the only known survivor of the original massacre, certain complicating truths are revealed. Truths that result in even more murder and chaos, and which generate fresh questions. Does Travis still feel guilt and contrition for what he did, and, if so, why is he apparently complying with the orders of his corrupt commanding officer, Moran (Jack Thompson in superb form) to double-cross his tracker? Does Tommy, his tracker, remember everything that happened to his family members on that fateful day in 1919? And, if so, will he sympathise with Baywara, and his fearsomely proud female comrade, Gulwurri (Esmerelda Marimowa)?


Serving the narrative as virtually a separate character, in its own right, is the stunning landscape, which is depicted here, as vast, verdant, and treacherous, and which is captured by DOP Andrew Commis with a true feeling for epic scale and telling detail, as well as cementing an atmosphere of savage harshness and awe-inspiring brutality.


“In his first screen role, Nayinggul draws Gutjuk’s dilemma with a touching transparency. He desperately wants to do the right thing, even if it isn’t always clear what that might be…. And Baker anchors the whole thing. Travis, a former World War 1 army sniper, could have come across as stolidly unappealing, so eaten up with self-loathing that he has no room for any other emotion, but Baker finds the warmth and decency in him.


To call it a timely film would be simplification. It’s timeless – a classic Australian account of the damage done by rampant colonialism.”








Justin Kurzel follows SNOWTOWN; MACBETH; and TRUE HISTORY OF THE KELLY GANG with yet another finely wrought, original, and emotionally confronting study of flawed masculinity.


Living a life of isolation and frustration, is a young man (immersively well-played by Caleb Landry Jones) who has been residing with loving but distant parents (wonderfully portrayed by a never-better Judy Davis and a very affecting Anthony LaPaglia) but who develops an unexpected friendship with a reclusive heiress (an almost unrecognisable Essie Davis). When that relationship meets with a sad end, the central figure’s continuing loneliness and anger culminates in the most nihilistic and heinous of acts.


“From the very announcement of director Justin Kurzel’s film, NITRAM, a film about the man behind the 1996 Port Arthur massacre, one of the most shocking crimes committed by a single person in modern Australian history, the movie has been met with hostility ranging from people questioning the motivation behind making such a film to people wanting it not to be made at all. Such reactions speak to both the rawness of the event for many, and also to the very justifiable suspicion towards cinema turning real life into spectacle. However, it also does not give Kurzel and co-writer Shaun Grant’s impressive track record the benefit of the doubt, and the final film is a testament to how such troubling subject matter can be explored in cinema with integrity and sensitivity without sacrificing its power. The fact that the protagonist is never named in the film – he is only referred to as Nitram, his old school nickname which is his first name spelled backwards – is one indication that this is a film being very careful not to give him any sense of notoriety and recognition.


Played by the increasingly impressive and versatile actor, Caleb Landry Jones, Nitram is established as a troubled and troubling young man living with his stern yet supportive mother (Judy Davis) and his affectionate yet exasperated father (Anthony LaPaglia). Already a social outcast and struggling to manage his psychiatric disorder, he continually acts in ways that bring further misfortune to himself and his parents. His life takes a strange and unexpected turn after he meets Helen (Essie Davis) a wealthy recluse who semi-adopts him. However, when a series of tragedies occur, Nitram soon begins to focus on planning his horrific actions.


“The whole look of the film – in particular, Germain McMicking’s cinematography – gives the film an eerie serenity and stillness, capturing a sense of peace and relative innocence that will no longer be present by the time the film has finished. When the film does enter its final phase of depicting the planning of the mass shooting, an intense dread and tension sets in that remains to the very end of the film, which makes the strategic decision not to depict the actual massacre on screen. However, the emotion that is felt most strongly as the film concludes is one of immense grief at the meaningless loss of life that resulted from somebody like Nitram having such easy access to weapons designed to take life away. If there is any one reason for NITRAM to justify its existence then it is to grieve for the people who died on that day.”






Below is the full list of Australian features (in alphabetical order) that were in consideration for nomination by the FCCA.




If there are any queries, please contact the Awards Manager at filmcriticsaust@bigpond.com