The Sapphires sparkles at film awards
The Sapphires won five behind-the-scenes awards.
The Sapphires' march to dominance at the Australian Academy of Cinema and Television Arts Awards has started with five craft awards.
Director Wayne Blair's comic musical, about an indigenous all-girl singing group in the 1960s, has won best cinematography, editing, sound, production design and costume design at the industry awards in Sydney.
Adam Zwar, right, picked up awards for his series Lowdown (pictured) and Agony Aunts.
The event - which sits between Sunday's AACTA awards for international films in Los Angeles and Wednesday's main ceremony for Australian films - covered the first prizes for feature films and television shows, as well as shorts and documentaries.
The Sapphires, which is favoured to win best film and direction and possibly three acting prizes on Wednesday, won five behind-the-scenes awards from six nominations, including Melinda Doring for best production design and Tess Schofield for best costume design.
"Oh my god, this is so cool," said Warwick Thornton, who won best cinematography for the film, having previously won best direction and original screenplay for his own film, Samson & Delilah, when the awards were the called the AFIs three years ago.
Producer Al Clark. Photo: Marco Del Grande
The Sapphires missed out on the award for best visual effects, which went to the little-seen Finnish-Australian sci-fi comedy Iron Sky, about a Nazi strike on the earth from the dark side of the moon.
Best feature-length documentary at the awards, hosted by Oscar-winning animator Adam Elliot, went to Storm Surfers 3D, which showed surfers Tom Carroll and Ross Clark-Jones battling huge waves and their own advancing years.
In the television categories, actor-writer Adam Zwar and producer Nicole Minchin had a double win for shows on ABC1.
Agony Aunts, in which comics and television personalities provide life advice, won best light-entertainment television series, while Lowdown, about a hapless journalist, won best comedy series.
The award for best children's television series went to The Adventures of Figaro Pho (ABC3).
Best documentary series was SBS's Go Back To Where You Came From, which took ordinary people (and later celebrities) on a reverse immigrant journey.
Producer Rick McPhee thanked the network "for having the courage to commission something so risky".
Best short film was Julian, Matthew Moore's comic look at a nine-year-old Julian Assange.
The Raymond Longford Award for lifetime achievement went to Al Clark, the prolific producer and executive producer of such films as The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert, Chopper, Red Hill, Blessed and The Book of Revelation. His work was praised via video by Richard Branson, Guy Pearce, Joel Edgerton and Miranda Otto, among others.
"It's wonderful that something like this could happen to someone who doesn't even have a mobile phone," Clark said, adding that filmmaking had given him a sense of belonging.
Clark said he had tried to champion originality and imagination during his career. "It is a business, but it's also an art and, at their best, filmmakers are artists."
The event's best line went to Adam Elliot. After acknowledging that director Stefan Elliott and Magda Szubanski had come out in the past year, the animator who famously referred to his boyfriend when he accepted his 2004 Oscar for Harvie Krumpet said he was "going back into the closet".
"It's been very overrated and I haven't been invited to a single orgy," he said.