THE AUSTRALIAN FILM INSTITUTE (AFI) AWARDS 1964-1975
First introduced in 1958, the AFI Awards were established to providing a
stimulus to Australian film producers and to draw attention to the latest
achievements in the industry. The inaugural awards were part of the Melbourne
Film Festival and not until 1959 were they solely conducted by the AFI.
In the early years the majority of entries were documentaries and sponsored
films made by government film departments or private companies. This reflected
the fact that there were no Australian-made full length feature films produced
from the inception of the AFI Awards until Tim Burstall’s 2000
WEEKS in 1969.
The awards were originally decided by a three-member jury, nominated by the
Institute, and awards were made in six categories — documentary, public
relations, experimental, teaching, advertising, and an open category. Awards in
each category were made on a merit scale (i.e. gold, silver, bronze, etc.).
Complete information on winners in each category for each year is sketchy
and is still being compiled. Any additional information would be most welcome.
In the early years of the awards, the award presentations were very small
affairs and the lack of information about other nominees is due to that fact
that there are few primary sources of verification. By 1970/71 the number of
films being entered had increased dramatically and the majority of prizes were
being won by fictional feature films. This is directly attributable to the
establishment of the Experimental Film and Television Fund, which provided the
first reliable and ongoing source of finance for new Australian film projects.
By 1974/75, following the establishment of government backed film funding bodies (notably Film
Australia and the South Australian Film Corporation) the number of feature films
being entered had increased dramatically, to the point where it was deemed necessary to abolish
the jury system in the feature section and replace with with a ballot, voted by all AFI members.