$4.3 million of funding was approved for a wide variety of feature film projects in various stages of production at the Screen Australia Board meeting this week.
“Funding includes support for debut feature directors, experienced production teams, an Australian book adaptation and stories targeted at domestic and international audiences,” CEO Graeme Mason said today.
“It is great to see such a diverse range of production taking place in Australia and this funding round continues to balance support for new and experienced talent in our sector,” he said.
Two remarkable true stories that reflect our contemporary cultural identity were supported in this round. A Long Way Home is a poignant account of a five-year old Indian boy who gets lost, forcing him into a Calcutta orphanage and, eventually, a life with an adoptive family in Tasmania. Years later, he endeavours to find his birth family.
This is the directorial feature debut of Garth Davis, renowned commercials director and co-director of the critically acclaimed television series Top of the Lake, and is to be produced by Emile Sherman, Iain Canning and Angie Fielder.
Based on Timothy Conigrave’s classic book and theatre show, Holding the Man is produced by Kylie du Fresne and directed by Neil Armfield, a hugely acclaimed theatre director who returns to feature films after 10 years. The film is a moving romance of Tim and John, lovers who meet at high school in the 70s, and its cultural, generational and social themes of a challenging 15-year relationship have relevance beyond the story’s cult status.
The futuristic sci-fi Infini, from director/producer/writer Shane Abbess and producers Mat Graham, Brett Thornquest and Sidonie Abbene, follows a rescue team trying to save the lone survivor of a freak accident on a mining station, who must race against the threat of a lethal biological weapon. Finishing funds will be provided by Screen Australia for this project, which features visual effects that will engage the imagination and transport audiences to another world.
Two thought-provoking feature documentaries were also provided with post-production support in this round. That Sugar Film, from first-time feature director Damon Gameau and producers Nick Batzias and Rory Williamson, will challenge Australian and international audiences’ perceptions of their habits forever, as it explores the effect of sugar on our bodies and minds.
The Last Impresario by debut feature director Gracie Otto and producer Nicole O’Donohue profiles Michael White, a notorious octogenarian London theatre and film impresario, told from the perspectives of several great cultural personalities. This intimate documentary introduces audiences to the person behind iconic productions The Rocky Horror Picture Show and Monty Python and the Holy Grail.
With only one funding round to go this financial year, the Screen Australia Board has continued to support diverse projects based on their potential for: Australian audience appeal, cultural value, talent escalation, international sales and festival selection. Screen Australia assesses eligible feature projects against published criteria covering script, creative team, project viability and market strength.
Over the past year, Screen Australia has supported a range of feature projects including comedies Oddball, Sucker and comic drama The Dressmaker; thriller Backtrack; dramas Rest Home, Life, Ruin and Partisan; children’s drama Paper Planes; and theatrical documentaries Sherpa: in the Shadow of the Mountain and Only the Dead. In television, projects have included bold dramas like Love Child, The Kettering Incident, Hiding, Gina, The Secret River, ANZAC Girls, Catching Milat and Deadline Gallipoli; children’s content The New Adventures of Figaro Pho, In Your Dreams Series 2, Mako Island of Secrets Series 2 andLittle Lunch; and comedies including Danger 5 and Party Tricks, plus a whole range of emerging talent through initiatives such as Fresh Blood with the ABC.
A LONG WAY HOME
See-Saw Films Pty Ltd and Sunstar Entertainment Pty Ltd
Producers Emile Sherman, Iain Canning, Angie Fielder
Executive Producers Andrew Fraser, Shahen Mekertichian, Andrew Mackie, Richard
Writer Luke Davies
Director Garth Davis
Australian Distributor Transmission Films
International Sales Cross City Sales Pty Ltd
Synopsis After a wrong train takes a five-year-old Indian boy thousands of kilometres from home and family, he survives many challenges before being adopted by an Australian couple. Twenty-five years later, armed with only the scantest of clues, he learns of a new technology called Google Earth, and sets out to find his lost family.
HOLDING THE MAN
Goalpost Pictures & HTM Productions
Producer Kylie du Fresne
Executive Producers Rosemary Blight, Ben Grant, Cameron Huang, Tristan Whalley
Writer Tommy Murphy
Director Neil Armfield
Australian Distributor Transmission Films
International Sales Goalpost Film UK
Synopsis There was Romeo and Juliet and then there was Tim and John. The course of teenage love rarely runs smooth, but if you find yourself gay in an Aussie all-male school in the 1970s and you’re entranced by the captain of the football team, life’s a thrill ride. Based on Timothy Conigrave’s memoir, and the inspiration for the award winning stage play, Holding the Man is the remarkable true-life love story of Tim Conigrave and John Caleo.
Infini Movie Pty Ltd
Producers Mat Graham, Shane Abbess, Brett Thornquest, Sidonie Abbene
Executive Producers Steven Matusko, Brian Cachia
Writer/Director Shane Abbess
Australian Distributor Entertainment One Films Australia Pty Ltd
International Sales Kathy Morgan International
Synopsis A futuristic ‘search and rescue’ team transport onto mining station INFINI to save Whit Carmichael – lone survivor of a freak accident – before quarantining a lethal biological weapon set to arrive back on earth within the hour.
THAT SUGAR FILM
Madman Production Company Pty Ltd
Producers Nick Batzias, Rory Williamson
Executive Producer Paul Wiegard
Director Damon Gameau
Australian Distributor Madman Entertainment
International Sales Metro International Entertainment
Synopsis An engaging and saccharine ride exploring what really happens when a spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down.
THE LAST IMPRESARIO
Wildflower Films Pty Ltd & Ralf Films
Producer Nicole O’Donohue
Executive Producers Julia Overton, Mel Flanagan, Thomas Mai
Director Gracie Otto
Australian Distributor Umbrella Entertainment
International Sales Dogwoof
Cast Yoko Ono, John Cleese, Kate Moss, Naomi Watts, Anna Wintour, Barry
Humphries, Greta Scacchi, Brian Thompson, Jim Sharman
Synopsis Michael White might just be the most famous person you’ve never heard of. A notorious London theatre and film impresario, playboy, gambler, bon vivant and friend of the rich and famous, he is now in his eighties and still enjoys partying like there’s no tomorrow. In this intimate documentary, filmmaker Gracie Otto introduces us to this larger-than-life phenomenon. Featuring interviews with many of his closest friends, including Anna Wintour, Kate Moss, John Waters, Barry Humphries and, of course, the man himself, the film is a vibrant tribute to a fascinating entertainer.
Screen Australia Media Release – Friday 28 March 2014