October 21, 2013
Screen Australia is investing $5.4 million in six feature films from directors Gillian Armstrong, Jeremy Sims and Paul Cox and rising filmmakers Kim Farrant, Mark Grentell and Alexs Stadermann.
Nicole Kidman, Guy Pearce and Hugo Weaving will star in Farrant’s Strangerland, a mystery drama about a couple whose lives unravel after their two teenage children go missing in the harsh Australian desert.
Michael Caton and Jacki Weaver are attached to star in Sims’ Last Cab to Darwin, a comedy-drama about a dying man’s final journey based on Reg Cribb’s play Last Cab to Darwin.
Caton will play Rex, a terminally ill cab driver who drove 3,000 km from his home in Broken Hill to Darwin in the early 1990s in hopes of taking advantage of the Northern Territory’s voluntary euthanasia laws. Ningali Lawford has been cast as Polly, an Aboriginal woman who is Rex’s next door neighbour and occasional lover, a role written specifically for her. Weaver is set to play a doctor who ministers to Rex.
The producers are Sims, Greg Duffy and Lisa Duff, with executive producers Ned Lander, Edward Simpson, Ian Darling, Mark Nelson, Andrew Myer and Jon Adgemis.
The six films are budgeted collectively at $32.3 million.
Armstrong will direct Women He’s Undressed, a behind-the-scenes Hollywood theatrical documentary about the legendary Australian costume designer Orry-Kelly. The film is written by Katherine Thomson and is produced by Damien Parer with executive producer Michael Wrenn.
David Wenham will play the lead in writer-director Cox’s Force of Destiny, a highly emotional love story about an artist who is told he has liver cancer and limited time to live, based on Cox’s experiences. The producers are Mark Patterson and Maggie Miles. Robert Connolly’s CinemaPlus is the distributor, which means the film will have event screenings in the capital cities.
Grentell made his feature film directorial debut with Backyard Ashes, a comedy about an Australian and Englishman who fight out their rivalry in the cricketing challenge of the century. Now in post production, the film was written and produced by Grentell, Peter Cox and Anne Robinson. The ensemble cast includes Andrew S. Gilbert, Felix Williamson, John Wood, Rebecca Massey and Damian Callinan.
Stadermann’s Maya the Bee Movie is a 3D animation for young children, based on books and animated television series. The German/Australian co-production is written by Fin Edquist and produced by Barbara Stephen, with executive producer Jim Ballantine.
Strangerland is written by Fiona Seres and Michael Kinirons and produced by Naomi Wenck and Macdara Kelleher, with executive producers Christopher Woodrow, Molly Conners, Maria Cestone, Sarah E. Johnson, Andrew Mackie and Richard Payten.
Crow Crow Productions
Producers Anne Robinson, Mark Grentell, Peter Cox
Writers Mark Grentell, Peter Cox
Director Mark Grentell
International Sales Level K
Australian Distributor Umbrella Entertainment
Synopsis Aussie versus Pom rivalry peaks when Dougie and Edward fight it out in the cricketing challenge of the century… the ‘Backyard Ashes’.
FORCE OF DESTINY
Paul’s Next Feature Pty Ltd
Producers Mark Patterson, Maggie Miles, Paul Cox
Writer Paul Cox
Director Paul Cox
International Sales Arrow Entertainment
Australian Distributor CinemaPlus
Synopsis Established artist Robert is told he has cancer of the liver and limited time to live… And so begins a love story. Another screen gem from veteran director Paul Cox, invested with the poignancy of an almost-true story.
LAST CAB TO DARWIN
Hydra Hamlet Pty Ltd
Producers Greg Duffy, Lisa Duff, Jeremy Sims
Executive Producers Ned Lander, Edward Simpson, Ian Darling, Mark Nelson, Andrew Myer, Jon Adgemis
Writer Reg Cribb
Director Jeremy Sims
International Sales Films Boutique/Films Distribution
Australian Distributor Icon Film Distribution
Synopsis Rex is a loner, and when he’s told he doesn’t have long to live, he embarks on an epic drive from Broken Hill to Darwin to die on his own terms; but his journey reveals to him that before you can end your life you have to live it, and to live it, you’ve got to share it.
MAYA THE BEE MOVIE
Official Germany–Australia Co-production
Buzz Studios Pty Ltd in association with Flying Bark Productions
Producer Barbara Stephen
Executive Producer Jim Ballantine
Writer Fin Edquist
Director Alexs Stadermann
International Sales Wavery Productions BV
Australian Distributor Buzz Studios/Hoyts Jnr.
Synopsis Maya is a little bee with a big personality. But in a hive where fitting in is the most important thing, being different isn’t easy.
Dragonfly Pictures Pty Ltd and Fastnet Films
Gap funding Worldview Entertainment
Producers Naomi Wenck, Macdara Kelleher
Executive Producers Christopher Woodrow, Molly Conners, Maria Cestone, Sarah E. Johnson, Andrew Mackie, Richard Payten
Writers Fiona Seres, Michael Kinirons
Director Kim Farrant
Cast Nicole Kidman, Guy Pearce, Hugo Weaving
International Sales Wild Bunch
Australian Distributor Transmission
Synopsis When Catherine and Matthew Parker’s two teenage children disappear into the remote Australian desert, their relationship is pushed to the brink as they confront the mystery of their children’s fate.
WOMEN HE’S UNDRESSED
Damien Parer Productions Pty Ltd
Producer Damien Parer
Executive Producer Michael Wrenn
Director Gillian Armstrong
Writer Katherine Thomson
International Sales Hollywood Classics
Australian Distributor Rialto Films, Pay TV Rights – Foxtel Broadcasting
Synopsis Orry-Kelly designed costumes for Marilyn Monroe, Jane Fonda, Bette Davis and Ava Gardner during the boom years of Hollywood. His films included Some Like It Hot, Casablanca, Now Voyager and Oklahoma. This feature-length documentary celebrates the colourful life of Australia’s greatest Oscar® winner.