Egyptian Ahmed Malek playing the character of (Hanif) in 'The Furnace'
Malek is competing with Simon Baker (High Ground), Eric Bana (The Dry), Caleb Landry Jones (Nitram) and Jacob Junior Nayinggul (High Ground).
Directed by Roderick MacKay, the Australian film has also been nominated for Best Film, Best Original Screenplay, Best Direction in Film, and Best Supporting Actor.
The voting process, which opened on Sunday, will be available for AACTA members to determine the winners until 8 November.
Premiering in September 2020 at the Orizzonti section of the 77th Venice International Film Festival, ‘The Furnace’ gained international critical acclaim and was described as “an enjoyably absorbing experience” by Variety and a “Brutish western tough as old leather and good as gold” by The Guardian.
‘The Furnace’ explores a forgotten aspect of the 19th century west Australian gold rush, when Muslim and Sikh camel handlers from India, Afghanistan and Persia – Iran's former name – were brought in by the British colonisers to help open up the Outback, many essentially working as indentured laborers.
The film follows the story of a young Afghan cameleer played by Malek, who is led away from his friendship with local Aboriginal people by a shifty gold prospector.
The star of successful films Ras El-Sana (2020), The Guest (2019), Gunshot (2018) and Sheikh Jackson (2017), Malek gained fame for his role as the young Hassan El-Banna in the series The Brotherhood, as well as Ahmed in the series With Premeditation, and teenage womaniser Adham in the TV series Hayat’s Tale, for which he received recognition from Middle Eastern audiences.