Eric Bana wins Australia's best actor "Oscar"

Thu Dec 6, 2007 11:55pm EST
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MELBOURNE (Reuters) - Two films about the experience of migrants adapting to life in Australia have won the nation's top movie awards, with Australia's Hollywood star Eric Bana and China-born actor Joan Chen taking the top honors.

The Australia Film Institute awards, the downunder version of Hollywood's Oscars, named "Romulus, My Father" as best film, and its star Bana as the best lead actor.

Based on the memoirs of London-based philosopher Raimond Gaita, "Romulus, My Father" is the story of a post World War Two migrant family dealing with isolation in Australia and a mother struggling with mental illness.

Bana, 39, is the son of Croatian and German immigrants. He first came to fame in Australia on a television comedy show before turning to movie acting, starring in Hollywood movies "Hulk," "Black Hawk Down" and "Troy."

Chen was named best actress for her role in "The Home Song Stories," in which she portrays a glamorous Shanghai nightclub singer who struggles to survive in 1970s Australia with two young children.

Chen, who is now based in the United States, has starred in more than 50 movies, including "The Last Emperor" and "Judge Dredd."

"The Home Song Stories" also scooped the production awards, winning best direction, best screenplay, best cinematography, best editing, best costume design, best original music score and best production design.

Australia is a nation of immigrants, with about one in four of its 21 million population born overseas.

(Reporting by James Grubel; Editing by Jeremy Laurence)

<p>Actor Eric Bana poses with his award for Best Lead Actor at the Australian Film Institute Awards at the Exhibition Buildings in Melbourne, December 6, 2007. REUTERS/Stuart Milligan</p>