Noyce work: Director wins lifetime achievement award

Director Phillip Noyce ahead of his lifetime achievement from the AACTA awards. Pic Nick Moir 5 dec 2017

Director Phillip Noyce ahead of his lifetime achievement from the AACTA awards. Pic Nick Moir 5 dec 2017

DIGICAM 00002229 attn news - rats of tobruk story.  jack bertrams section in tobruk on the perimeter 1941

DIGICAM 00002229 attn news - rats of tobruk story. jack bertrams section in tobruk on the perimeter 1941

Phil Noyce's father, Bill Noyce, who was one of the Rats of Tobruk revisits the site. Photo: SuppliedOther captions:Phil Noyce's father, Bill Noyce, who was one of the Rats of Tobruk. Photo: SuppliedA flyer dropped by the Germans on Australian troops during the war. Photo: supplied

Phil Noyce's father, Bill Noyce, who was one of the Rats of Tobruk revisits the site. Photo: SuppliedOther captions:Phil Noyce's father, Bill Noyce, who was one of the Rats of Tobruk. Photo: SuppliedA flyer dropped by the Germans on Australian troops during the war. Photo: supplied

Shooting the capture of Tobruk for the film; "The Rats of Tobruk". Directed by Charles Chauvel at Narellan, Sydney, NSW on 28th May 1944

Shooting the capture of Tobruk for the film; "The Rats of Tobruk". Directed by Charles Chauvel at Narellan, Sydney, NSW on 28th May 1944

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Australian director Phil Noyce counts on his fingers as he works out how many films he has made. One, Backroads. Two, Newsfront. Three, Heatwave ...

He makes it "17 maybe" including Dead Calm, Patriot Games, Clear And Present Danger, The Bone Collector, Rabbit Proof Fence, The Quiet American and Salt. Plus there's television projects such as The Dismissal, The Cowra Breakout and a remake of Roots.

But even though the 67-year-old will be honoured for his lifetime achievements at the Australian Academy of Cinema and Television Arts Awards on Wednesday night - winning the Longford Lyell Award -Noyce is far from ready to step away from the camera.

In fact, he plans an ambitious film based on his late father's experience as one of the Rats of Tobruk, the Australian troops who heroically defended a Libyan port from Rommel's Afrika Korps during World War II.

"He was a bush soldier who, like all the Australians in Tobruk, used improvisation to defeat the mechanised might of the German blitzkrieg," Noyce said.

The epic desert war drama will centre on eight Australians - one Indigenous - from the 13th platoon of the 13th battalion. The plan is to shoot Rats of Tobruk - possibly on the South Australian coast - in 2019.

Noyce grew up hearing his father's war stories.

"We'd end up listening to one adventure after another because there were so many," he said. "It took me until about a year ago to realise that he'd been telling me these stories because, in his own way, he was asking me to be the custodian of stories that he was the custodian of ...

"When my brother gave me his diary and I finally got around to reading it, that's when it all clicked for me. I realised 'oh my god, I know every one of these stories and I know the innermost feelings of the man who told me these stories'."

Noyce, who is teaming up with video game entrepreneur-turned-producer John De Margheriti??? for the movie, is delighted by the lifetime achievement award.

"Considering who it's named after [film pioneers Raymond Longford and Lottie Lyell] it's a great honour," he said. "It really makes you look back and think about all those that have helped you along the way - not what you've achieved but how lucky you were."

While he develops Rats of Tobruk, Noyce hopes to shoot at least one of three projects he has been working on - a bank robbery movie, a Mafia movie or a television series set at a winery.

"I'm just finding - mainly through working in television - that things are just beginning for me as a filmmaker in terms of technique, approach to storytelling and connection to the audience," he said. "So, I'm sorry, it's not the celebration of a life that's over. It's a celebration of the future as much as the past."

With the awards taking place after Geoffrey Rush stepped down as academy president - he has denied a complaint of "inappropriate behaviour" while working at Sydney Theatre Company -Noyce said he believed the tsunami of sexual harassment and abuse revelations would lead to change in the film industry.

"The punishment has been so fast and absolute that I don't think people are going to want to take the risk that their careers will be destroyed by inappropriate behaviour," he said. "So I think it's going to change but there's still a lot of questions to be answered about the past.

"The questioning will go on for quite a while before we turn the corner."

Noyce admitted he had wondered about his own actions after the revelations about Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein's??? predatory behaviour.

"You do find yourself asking 'did I say anything, did I do anything?'," he said. "I think that's true for everyone and not just in the film industry, but in every industry.

"And not just for men but for women and for anyone who's been in a position of power."

Noyce thought Rush had been "appropriate" in standing aside.

"He's been quick to act and hopefully everyone will find out more in the future. But he didn't want to tarnish this celebration with any of his own alleged history. I think he acted wisely."

After winning seven awards from seven nominations at the Academy's Industry Luncheon, Lion is set to continue its success at the main ceremony.

Tiny Sunny Pawar??? is only a rough chance of winning best actor but director Garth Davis' drama is favoured to claim best film, direction, supporting actress and supporting actor.

The awards will be telecast on the Seven Network from 8.30pm.

THE CONTENDERS

Best film

Ali's Wedding, Berlin Syndrome, Hounds Of Love, Jasper Jones, Lion

Likely winner: Lion

Best director

Jeffrey Walker (Ali's Wedding), Cate Shortland (Berlin Syndrome), Ben Young (Hounds Of Love), Garth Davis (Lion)

Likely winner: Garth Davis (Lion)

Best actress

Emma Booth (Hounds Of Love), Teresa Palmer (Berlin Syndrome), Helana Sawires (Ali's Wedding), Sara West (Don't Tell)

Likely winner: Emma Booth

Best actor

Stephen Curry (Hounds Of Love), Ewen Leslie (The Butterfly Tree), Sunny Pawar (Lion), Osamah Sami (Ali's Wedding)

Likely winner: Stephen Curry or Osamah Sami

Best supporting actress

Frances Duca (Ali's Wedding), Nicole Kidman (Lion), Jacqueline McKenzie (Don't Tell), Susie Porter (Hounds Of Love)

Likely winner: Nicole Kidman

Best supporting actor

Don Hany (Ali's Wedding), Dev Patel (Lion), Jack Thompson (Don't Tell), Hugo Weaving (Jasper Jones)

Likely winner: Dev Patel

Best TV drama series

Cleverman (ABC), Janet King - Playing Advantage (ABC), Top Of The Lake: China Girl (Foxtel/BBC First), Wentworth (Foxtel/Showcase)

Likely winner: Wentworth

Best telefeature or mini-series

Blue Murder: Killer Cop (Seven), Seven Types Of Ambiguity (ABC), Sunshine (SBS) Wake In Fright (Ten)

Likely winner: Seven Types Of Ambiguity

This story Noyce work: Director wins lifetime achievement award first appeared on The Sydney Morning Herald.