AAP Entertainment

The Nightingale takes top AACTA award

By AAP Newswire

Director Jennifer Kent has swept the Australian film and television industry's AACTA awards for her acclaimed film The Nightingale, in what was a stellar night for female talent.

Kent wasn't present when she made history on Wednesday night by taking out the AACTAs for best direction, best screenplay and best film, making her the first woman to win all three categories for the same film in a single year.

The star of the confronting convict-era revenge drama, Irish-Italian performer Aisling Franciosi, received her first-ever AACTA gong for best lead actress.

Deborah Mailman and Rachel Griffiths also took out awards for their performances in ABC's political drama Total Control, directed by Rachel Perkins, which also won best drama series.

"I'm actually really emotional," Mailman told reporters after her win.

"This show has meant everything to me. It's my first lead role in a drama series."

Veteran actor Sam Neill was visibly emotional when he was honoured with the Longford Lyell Award in recognition of his decades-long career, with Meryl Streep, Jane Campion, Nicole Kidman, Liam Neeson and Nicole Kidman among those offering tributes.

"The lifetime thing sounds a little terminal and I hope they don't mean it's the end because I'm not done, I would still like to put a few more runs on the board," Neill said.

Damon Herriman, who also starred in The Nightingale, capped off a massive year at home and abroad with a win for his performance in fellow best film nominee Judy & Punch.

Scott Ryan from the hitman drama series Mr Inbetween won best lead actor in a television drama while Richard Roxburgh was named best guest or supporting actor in a television drama for his role in SBS series The Hunting.

The creators of the ABC's popular parenthood comedy The Letdown also had a big night, with the show name best comedy program and its star Alison Bell winning best performance in a television comedy.

A tearful Stan Grant accepted the award for best documentary for The Australian Dream, directed by Daniel Gordon.

Gordon paid tribute to the documentary's subject, AFL player Adam Goodes, for having the courage to go through some of his life's darkest moments for the film.

Bong Joon Ho's internationally-acclaimed South Korean black comedy, Parasite, won best Asian film.

AACTA chief executive Damian Trewhella said he was "thrilled" that the year had seen "some of the strongest and most diverse stories shine across a range of platforms".

"The awards this evening have recognised the tremendous vibrancy of our creative community and contributions to both the Australian and global screen industries," he said in a statement.