AAP Entertainment

The Nightingale sweeps the AACTA awards

By AAP Newswire

Jennifer Kent has made history at the Australian film and television industry's AACTA Awards, with actors Deborah Mailman, Rachel Griffiths and Damon Herriman also talking out top gongs.

Kent wasn't present on Wednesday night when she won three AACTAs for best direction, best screenplay and best film, making her the first woman to sweep 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 award for best lead actress.

The film's producer Kristina Ceyton said the awards were a huge honour and the recognition meant so much.

"It's a very hard story to tell, it's a very hard story to watch, and we all went through so much and gave so much of us," she told reporters in Sydney.

"So to have that recognition, be recognised on a best film level and all the individual awards, it's just a huge honour."

Mailman and 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.

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.

Herriman, who also starred in The Nightingale, capped off a massive year with a win for his performance in fellow best film nominee, the black comedy Judy & Punch.