AACTA TV nominations 2019 – a Gothic scream of joy

Lambs of God takes on all comers with a staggering 18 nominations in every category except comedy and kids.

You would have to say that Lambs of God is a very strange series. Would you pick this for a popular success in Australia?

Three Catholic nuns, Sisters Iphigenia, Margarita and Carla, are the last remaining members of the enclosed order of St Agnes living on a remote island with a flock of sheep which they believe are the reincarnations of their departed sisters. A young priest, Father Ignatius, arrives to survey the supposedly abandoned abbey for the church, but he is injured and becomes their prisoner.

The synopsis never locates the nunnery, but it predates Australia and is very Irish. The Catholic Church in Australia remains powerful but not like that.

Read: Review Lambs of God is perversely life-affirming

Best Telefeature or Miniseries

The series comes from an interesting novel by Australian Marele Day, who also wrote the Claudia Valentine series. It was written by Sarah Lambert, directed by Jeffrey Walker, and produced by Jason Stephens, Elisa Argenzio and Sarah Lambert. It comes from Lingo Pictures and Endemol Shine Australia and is distributed by powerful international outfit Sky Vision.

It was made for Foxtel. It has been nominated for Best Telefeature or Miniseries. It gathered a total of seventeen nominations, which is just about everything except best sports broadcast. The shoot was allegedly so fast it probably looked like a basketball match with two balls. 

Sam Reid was also nominated for best actor, Essie Davis and Ann Down for best actress, Damon Herriman for supporting actor, Jeffrey Walker for directing, Sarah Lambert for script, Don McAlpine for cinematography, Deborah Peart for editing, Nick Emond, Stephen Smith, Paul Devescovi, Mia Stewart for sound, Bryony Marks for original score, Chris Kennedy for production design, Xanthe Heubel for costume design, Diesel La Torraca for male new talent subscription, Emma Lancaster, Asha Boswarva and Yvonne Rae, all for female new talent, subscription. 

Facing the sheep-crazed nuns is The Cry, produced by Claire Mundell, Brian Kaczynski, and Stuart Menzies through Synchronicity Films in association with December Media for the ABC. It was written by Jacqueline Perske and directed by Glendyn Ivin. The original network was BBC1. 

Ewen Leslie for actor, Jenna Coleman for actress, Asher Keddie for supporting actress, Jackquelin Perske for best screenplay, Lorne Balfe for score, Alistair Reid for editing.

Fighting Season was produced by Kylie du Fresne, Blake Ayshford and Elisa Argenzio through Goalpost Pictures, again for Foxtel. It was written by Blake Ayshford and directed by Kate Woods and Ben Lucas. Sky has this one internationally as well.

Ewen Leslie for supporting actor and ditto for subscription TV, Marco Alosio for new talent in subscription.

The Hunting comes from Closer Productions, produced by Sophie Hyde, Lisa Scott, and Rebecca Summerton for SBS. It was created by Hyde and Matthew Cormack, written by him and Niki Aiken and directed by Hyde and Ana Kokkinos.

Richard Roxburgh for supporting actor, Ana Kokkinos for director, Niki Aken and Matthew Cormack for script.

On The Ropes is another Lingo Pictures production in which Helen Bowden is identified as producer rather than EP, along with Courtney Wise and Jason Stephens. It was written by Tamara Asmar, Adam Todd and Ian Meadows, and directed by Shannon Murphy. 

Best Drama Series

Some of these are really longer miniseries.

Bloom is produced by David Maher, David Taylor, Glen Dolman, and Sue Seeary for Playmaker contracted to Stan. It was created by Glen Dolman and directed by John Curran and Mat King. Sony Pictures TV has it internationally.

Bryan Brown is up for lead actor, John Stanton for supporting actor, Jacki Weaver for supporting actress, and Usha Cornish for subscription award for best new talent.

Blue-Tongue Films, Jungle Entertainment and Pariah Films got together in the person of producer Michelle Bennett wrangling writer Scott Ryan and director Nash Edgerton, all to make Mr Inbetween. It released first on FX in the US followed by Foxtel here; it is a genuine series because it has been renewed for a second set. 

Scott Ryan for best lead, Brooke Satchwell for best supporting actress, Damon Herriman for best supporting actor.

The Secret City: Under the Eagle has kept Matchbox busy, and also led to a second series. From a series of novels by Chris Uhlmann and Steve Lewis, it was written by Matt Cameron, Belinda Chayko, Greg Waters, Elise McCredie and Angela Betzien in a full-on writers’ room. 

Anna Torv for lead actress, Mark Wareham for cinematography, Elizabeth Mary Moore for production design, Frederick du Rietz and Fletcher Kennedy for best new male actor subscription

Total Control is running now on the ABC, was produced by Darren Dale, Miranda Dear and Rachel Griffiths through Blackfella Films. Angela Betzien and Pip Karmel wrote it, and it was directed by Rachel Perkins.

Deborah Mailman for lead actress, Rachel Griffiths for supporting actress, Rachel Perkins for direction, Deborah Peart for editing.

Wentworth is not a series but a state of its own out of time and beyond mortality. Jo Porte and Pino Amenta produce and Fremantle Australia delivers it to Foxtel. 

Pauline Gibson for female new talent, subscription.

Best Comedy Program

It seems as if nobody outside the ABC contact list has a narrative sense of humour. Or maybe they catch the competition and tickle them to death in the Ultimo basement. 

Fiona Donovan is in with a chance for production design and Nina Evans for costume design. Mark Cornish and Ralph Ortner are celebrated for sound.

Again, Bryony Marks is picked out for the score. 

The Letdown – Linda Micsko, Julian Morrow, Sarah Scheller, Alison Bell through Giant Dwarf.

Alison Bell is campaigning for best performance in a TV comedy.

Rosehaven – Andrew Walker, Kevin Whyte, Celia Pacquola, and Luke McGregor through What Horse? and Guesswork Television. 

Celia Pacquola is ditto.

Sammy J – Sammy J, Michelle Buxton, and Chris McDonald through Buxstock Entertainment.

Utopia – Santo Cilauro, Tom Gleisner, Rob Sitch and Michael Hirsh through Working Dog Productions.

Celia Pacquola is nominated again for Utopia as is Rob Sitch. Santo Cilauro, Tom Gleisner, and Rob Sitch also compete for best script. 

Best Children’s Program

The commercial broadcasters are busily trying to tell the government that kids’ shows are rotting the financial fabric of free enterprise, but Seven accidentally broke ranks and commissioned Drop Dead Weird, produced by Sally Browning, Monica O’Brien and Kylie Mascord. Companies are Ambience Entertainment and Air Pig Productions and it was also commissioned through Telegael in Ireland.

Bluey has come home from winning Best Working Dog at the Gympie Muster to wag its tail at audiences in this category. But not for anything else. Something is wrong with the awards system – maybe we need a category for outrageously cute.

Hardball comes from Northern Pictures through Catherine Nebauer, Joe Weatherstone, Bernadette O’Mahony, Jan Stradling, with the involvement of the ACTF, servicing the needs of ABCME.

The Inbestigators is Gristmill which means Robyn Butler and Wayne Hope, again for ABCME

Aquarius Films in association with Buster Productions put Angie Fielder, Polly Staniford, and Justine Flynn to producing The Unlisted for ABCME. Of course. 

Mat Evans is nominated as editor. Diego Baldenweg, Nora Baldenweg, Lionel Vincent Baldenweg are in the running for the score. 

Nominations not on this list.

Glitch comes in through Patrick Brammell for lead actor; Les Norton gives a chance to Kate Box as supporting actress; The Letdown – Episode 2: The Dilemma ditto for Sarah Scheller and Alison Bell as directors.

Read: Review Glitch Season 3 really will be the end

Gilbert Farkas is nominated for cinematography on SBS food show Destination Flavour China – Episode 1: Beijing. Bet he fell down in shock and rose up in delight. 

Todd Sampson’s Body Hack – Episode 1: Gaza Frontlines may get the sound gong for Damian Jory. 

Miranda Tapsell has a performance in a television comedy nomination for her remarkable work on Get Krackin.

The other TV categories are here.

Lambs of God – image: SFF

David Tiley was the Editor of Screenhub from 2005 until he became Content Lead for Film in 2021 with a special interest in policy. He is a writer in screen media with a long career in educational programs, documentary, and government funding, with a side order in script editing. He values curiosity, humour and objectivity in support of Australian visions and the art of storytelling.