A DECADE ago, the Australian Film Institute made an ill-fated attempt to rebrand its awards by calling them the Lovelys - after silent film actress Louise Lovely. It lasted exactly a year.
The institute's latest rebranding is much more substantial and considered - a new offshoot in the Australian Academy of Cinema and Television Arts, a high-profile president in Geoffrey Rush (an actor heading AACTA!), a reinvigorated awards ceremony at the Opera House and a new statuette that looks less like a lethal doorstop and more like a stylised Oscar, possibly Oscar's flamboyant brother waving ''hi''.
The move is partly overdue respect for the various industry chapters - including screenwriters, directors, actors, cinematographers and the growth fields of animation and visual effects - through a more professional system of recognition.
It's a way of unifying the industry and creating a more powerful lobby group for the next funding crisis or government review, but a big motivation is wanting to rise above the clutter of other accolades by lining up with the American and British academy awards, hopefully leading to a decent television slot after years bouncing around the networks as little more than non-ratings filler.
Having the awards just after the Golden Globes and Oscar nominations - around Australia Day - seems like a smart move. But the perennial problem will remain: the low profile of many of the Australian films in the running.
The leading contenders this year, for example, are likely to be Snowtown, Mad Bastards, Oranges and Sunshine, Red Dog and the still-to-be-released The Eye Of the Storm and The Cup.
What will help is a likely new award for best film, irrespective of nationality. It should become part of the annual global debate about which film will win at that other Academy Awards.
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