This month the
Australian Film Institute celebrates its 43rd annual awards-an epic
production compared with the premier in 1958. Then, Flynn and Finch were our
big acting exports and a best actor Oscar was something Americans or Brits won.
There was none of today's red carpet, designer dressing or live TV coverage.
Even the weighty AFI trophy was a modest medallion. What hasn't changed is the
buzz an actor feels when his or her name is read on the opening of the envelope.
"It is wonderful to have that recognition," says Noni Hazlehurst, one
of nine past winners feted here. "To be awarded means people have enjoyed
the movie." Roll the credits, please.
WON FOR: best actor, Evil
Almost a decade after the event, and four years after the
book, director Fred Schepisi brought to life John Bryson's account of Michael
and Lindy Chamberlain's travails. "It's
a film a lot of people admire," says Neill.
"It was my second time working with Meryl [Streep] and Fred. We had become friends and that made working
with a very difficult and awkward subject somewhat easier. My performance in it is quite raw. The image I had in my head was that Michael
Chamberlain was a man who, because of circumstances, had had most of his skin
taken off - he was very tender and sore and vulnerable. It was important to give it similitude. I got to know him and I think it was important
to be honourable to the Chamberlains and not to mess about with the truth. There were many reasons to do the film. Many
reasons not to do it, too. It was
scary. Everybody had an opinion about
it. They still do."