Phillip Noyce's period drama 'Rabbit-Proof Fence' has received ten nominations for this year's Australian Film Institute Awards.

However, first-time director Tony Ayres is a close second with nine nominations for 'Walking on Water', a film about the effect of a young man's death on his family and friends.

In the Best Film category, 'Rabbit-Proof Fence' is up against 'Australian Rules', 'Beneath Clouds' and 'The Tracker', each of which have received six nominations.

'Rabbit-Proof Fence' has been the highest grossing Australian film of the year so far, with takings of $7.4m (Australian).

'Amelie', 'A Beautiful Mind', 'Gosford Park' and 'The Lord Of The Rings:The Fellowship Of The Ring' have all been nominated in the Best Foreign Film category.

The awards will be held on 7 December.

'Rabbit-Proof Fence' is due for release in Ireland on 8 November.