Oscar-Winning Costume-Production-Set Designer Catherine Martin to Receive Australian Film Academy’s Highest Honor

Catherine Martin
Catherine Martin image via AACTA

The Australian Academy of Cinema and Television Arts (AACTA) has announced that Oscar winner Catherine Martin, the veteran Costume, Production, and Set Designer, will receive its highest honor — the prestigious Longford Lyell Award.

No Australian has won more Oscars than Martin, who has taken home four little gold men along with five BAFTAs and five Australian Film Institute Awards, plus a Tony Award and three AACTAs, as well as the organization’s Byron Kennedy Award.

Martin has worked alongside her husband and chief collaborator, Oscar-nominated filmmaker Baz Luhrmann, to create some of the most visually stunning film costumes and sets to ever grace the big screen, and she’s being honored for her outstanding contribution and influence to global cinema.

“I am humbled and honored to be this year’s recipient of the Longford Lyle Award,” Martin said in a statement. “To be recognized by one’s peers in one’s home country is profoundly meaningful. Australia, with its myriad filmmaking opportunities and wonderful talents, has been extraordinarily fertile soil for my body of work, and for this, I am truly grateful.”

“The award also resonates with me personally as its namesakes were, as Baz and I am, both partners in life and art,” Martin continued. “Baz and I often joke that we are just getting started, so I hope this ‘lifetime achievement award’ is not a full stop, but a comma; heralding the beginning of new and exciting creative adventures to be shared with both long-time collaborators and new artists alike, in front of and behind the camera.”

“For more than three decades, Catherine Martin has been injecting color and life onto our screens through visionary artistry and experimental designs. Receiving the Byron Kennedy Award from the Australian Film Institute in 1999 and now the Longford Lyell Award 23 years later, exemplifies the dedication she has [to] her craft,” AACTA CEO Damian Trewhella said in a statement. “Catherine is held in the highest regard by her peers and audiences globally, and the Australian Academy is proud to honor her relentless work and outstanding contribution to the industry.”

Martin’s first collaboration with Luhrmann on a feature film was 1992’s Strictly Ballroom, which launched the Red Curtain Trilogy and earned Martin two Australian Film Institute Awards for Best Production Design and Best Costume Design. They then went on to collaborate on Romeo + Juliet, for which Martin won an Oscar for Best Production Design.

In 2001, Martin designed the sets and co-designed the costumes with Angus Straithie for Moulin Rouge!, winning two Oscars for her efforts. She also won Broadway’s 2003 Tony Award for Best Scenic Design of a Musical for her work on Luhrmann’s Broadway adaptation of La Bohème.

In 2008, Martin reunited with Nicole Kidman on the visually breathtaking Australia, for which she won two shared AFI Awards for Best Production Design and Best Costume Design with Eliza Godman.

Martin later oversaw the construction of 42 sets over 14 weeks on The Great Gatsby, earning her two Academy Awards, two BAFTAs, and two AACTA Awards for Costume Design and Production Design, which she shared with Beverley Dunn.

This year saw the release of Elvis, the larger-than-life biopic of Elvis Presley, which is nominated for 15 AACTA Awards including Best Film, Best Direction (Luhrmann), and Best Lead Actor (Austin Butler), while Martin is nominated for Best Costume Design and Best Production Design alongside Karen Murphy and Beverley Dunn.

First presented in 1968, the Longford Lyell Award honors Australian film pioneer Raymond Longford and his partner in filmmaking and life, Lottie Lyell. The Award is the highest honor that the Australian Academy can bestow upon an individual, and recognizes a person who has made a truly outstanding contribution to the enrichment of Australia’s screen environment and culture while raising global awareness about Australia’s thriving film industry.

The Longford Lyell Award will be presented at the 2022 AACTA Awards, which will be broadcast on Australia’s Network 10 on Wednesday, Dec. 7 at 7:30 pm and will be encored on Foxtel’s Fox Docos on Saturday, Dec. 10 at 7:30 pm. The broadcast will also be available to stream on-demand via Foxtel, Binge, and AACTA TV.