AACTA bends the rules to allow Netflix-only film into contention

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The list of qualifying festivals includes Australia’s biggest ones – Sydney, Melbourne, Adelaide and Western Australia’s Cinefest Oz – as well as some of the more niche offerings; such as Monster Fest, Mardi Gras Film Festival and Revelation Film Festival.

What it does not include is the any of the big four – Venice, Berlin, Cannes and Toronto.

Timothee Chalamet, David Michod and Joel Edgerton at the photocall for The King at Venice Film Festival.

Timothee Chalamet, David Michod and Joel Edgerton at the photocall for The King at Venice Film Festival.

The King has been such a hot play that no Australian film festival can get it,” said AACTA chief Damian Trewhella. “We hadn’t foreseen this circumstance – this one has come in at a level above that.”

The King, which starred Timothée Chalamet as young Prince Hal and Ben Mendelsohn as his father, was not the first Netflix film to be in AACTA contention.

Berlin Syndrome was among the nominees in 2017 and Cargo in 2018.

Both had, however, a short cinematic release in Australia before debuting on the streaming service.

The sci-fi film I Am Mother, which was also eligible this year, screened at the Adelaide Film Festival before its release on Netflix.

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Including The King among the 34 eligible features reflected the changing nature of film distribution, said Mr Trewhella.

“What a release means these days is changing. It’s such a fast-changing landscape that we’re having to adapt as well.”

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There remains a long way to go before The King can be crowned a winner, however. The long list of films will be winnowed over two stages of voting by AACTA members before the winners get announced in December.

Follow the author on Facebook at karlquinnjournalist and on twitter @karlkwin

Karl is a senior entertainment writer at The Age and The Sydney Morning Herald.

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