Snowtown claims four Australia film awards

Lucas Pittaway as James Vlassakis Lucas Pittaway plays Australian serial killer James Vlassakis in Snowtown

Real life crime movie Snowtown scooped four prizes, including best director, at Australia's version of the Academy Awards on Tuesday.

The serial killer drama won best actor, adapted screenplay and supporting actress at the Australian Academy of Cinema and Television Arts Awards.

Red Dog, a comedy about the true story of a dog that unites a small mining town, was named best film.

In the TV categories, controversial drama The Slap won five gongs.

Asher Keddie, who played Ita Buttrose in the mini-series Paper Giants: The Birth of Cleo, collected the audience choice award for best performance in a TV drama.

Family drama Packed To The Rafters scooped the audience choice award for best TV programme.

The series, one of the most-watched programmes on Australian television, tells the story of two middle-aged parents whose adult children are either unwilling or unable to leave home.

'Compelling and different'

Snowtown retells the story of the so-called "bodies in barrels murders" that took place between 1992 and 1999 in South Australia.

Director Justin Kurzel said that, although the movie had been criticised for revisiting a grim moment in Australian history, it had been received well.

"It was just released in the UK and it did really well over there and it seems to be a story that people overseas find really compelling and different," Kurzel told Variety.

Accepting the best film award, Red Dog's producer, Nelson Woss, said making the movie "took a long time and there were so many people involved'".

He added that he had brought the collar belonging to the film's canine star, Koko, along to the ceremony for good luck.

Judy Davis took home the trophy for best actress for The Eye of the Storm, while Hugo Weaving won best supporting actor for Oranges and Sunshine.

This year marked the first ceremony for the Australian Academy of Cinema and Television Arts Awards, which have replaced the Australian Film Institute awards.

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