June 27, 2012
IVAN Sen has begun filming his fourth feature, Mystery Road. The murder mystery follows the acclaimed indigenous director’s Beneath Clouds, Dreamland and Toomelah and promises another leap forward for the writer-director who admitted to Reel Time recently of having some kind of filmmaking epiphany. Filming began in the central Queensland town of Winton, with Aaron Pedersen heading a stunning ensemble cast including Hugo Weaving, Jack Thompson, Ryan Kwanten, Tony Barry, Tasma Walton, Damian Walshe-Howling, David Field, Robert Mammone and newcomers Trisha Whitton and Siobhan Binge. Sen wrote Mystery Road and will also direct, shoot and edit it. Mad Bastards’ David Jowsey will produce the film, about a detective trying to solve an outback murder. ‘‘Ivan Sen is one of Australia’s most gifted filmmakers who, with Mystery Road, has the opportunity to apply his prodigious talent to a broader canvas,’’ Jowsey says. THE return of Barbra Streisand to directing is news enough but reports that Cate Blanchett and Colin Firth are attached to the film make it a little more consequential. Reports in the US suggest the trio will team in the new year on the love story Skinny and Cat, about writer Erskine Caldwell and photojournalist Margaret Bourke White. The independent film will be Streisand’s first behind the camera since 1996’s The Mirror Has Two Faces. Blanchett is believed to have recently finished work on Terrence Malick’s new film, Knight of Cups, and Peter Jackson’s The Hobbit. GLENDYN Ivin’s debut feature, Last Ride, will open in US cinemas on July 5. The father and son road movie starring Hugo Weaving and Tom Russell was released in 2009 and will be released in the US by independent distributor Music Box Films. Two more Aussie films are in minor release in the US. Snowtown, renamed The Snowtown Murders, has earned $US8452 ($8424) from three screens and Tomorrow When the War Began opened on 10 screens for a mere $US4936. Not such a good year in the US for Australian releases. THE traffic is all one way. American movie The Avengers has become the third highest grossing film in Australian history, earning $52,752,706, to trail Avatar’s $115 million and Titanic’s $57m. MEANWHILE, a Pixar film found itself in the rare position of playing second fiddle to another blockbuster in Australia on the weekend. Brave, the new film from the studio behind Finding Nemo and Toy Story, opened with only $2.5m, well behind the boxoffice opening of $6.1m for the action fantasy Snow White and The Huntsman. Brave was groundbreaking for Pixar: it featured the studio’s first female lead and was its first attempt at a period feature. Conversely, Snow White had Twilight’s Kristen Stewart and Aussie Thor Chris Hemsworth. Elsewhere, Prometheus extended its take to $15.4m and the Danish release A Royal Affair opened with a very strong $170,000 from 24 screens. Indian film Teri Meri Kahaani opened with $76,000 and Russian film Elena opened with $72,000. British comedy The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel will drop out of the top 20 with $21.08m, making it the third biggest film of the year thus far. THE Australian Film, Television and Radio School has released research, to mark its 40th anniversary, assessing the career progression of its alumni. Most pleasing perhaps is its finding that 74 per cent of graduates are still pursuing work or working in the industry, 47 per cent of whom reported their main focus was film while 27 per cent indicated it was television. In the 10th edition of AFTRS journal Lumina, the school’s chief executive Sandra Levy writes: ‘‘The data shows that the school’s graduates are a remarkable group of people: talented, optimistic, tenacious and inventive.’’ In other results, it was reported that 70 per cent of graduates added they were pursuing their chosen field of specialisation, 21 per cent saying that was directing. Two in five respondents regarded their employment status as freelance, and half (52 per cent) said they have had at least one period (from two months up to two years) working outside the industry. In ranking motivating factors, 91 per cent of respondents said ‘‘satisfying creative vision’’ was ‘‘very important’’ while only 11 per cent cited ‘‘making a lot of money’’ as very important. Half of those working (49 per cent) had an annual income of less than $60,000, yet AFTRS alumni were optimistic: 56 per cent believed they would be working in their chosen field with a lot of success in 10 years.