December 4, 2014
Australian films Strangerland and Partisan will have their world premieres at the renowned Sundance Film Festival in 2015. Both films will screen in the festival’s World Cinema Dramatic Competition, which features 12 films from around the world. The program showcases emerging filmmakers offering fresh perspectives and inventive styles.
Strangerland is a mystery drama about a couple played by Nicole Kidman and Joseph Fiennes, whose lives unravel after their two teenage children go missing in the harsh Australian desert. The film also stars Hugo Weaving and was shot in regional Australian towns Broken Hill and Canowindra. Directed by Kim Farrant, produced by Naomi Wenck and Macdara Kelleher, the story is by Fiona Seres and written by both Fiona and Michael Kinirons.
Director Kim Farrant said, “We are thrilled that Strangerland will have its world premiere at one of the top festivals in the world. It’s such an honour to be in (World Dramatic) competition with such a fabulous line up of films and I’m especially excited to be going to Sundance (as I’ve always wanted to go) with my debut dramatic feature. Buying my snow boots now!”
Kim developed the Strangerland script through the former national script program, Spark, and was also invited to participate in the Binger Directors Lab in Amsterdam.
The psychological thriller, Partisan, follows 11-year-old Alexander – playful, curious and naïve, like any other kid. He is also a trained assassin. Raised in a hidden paradise on the outskirts of town, Alexander has grown up seeing the world exclusively through the eyes of his father, Gregori (Vincent Cassel). As Alexander starts to think for himself, Gregori’s idyllic world begins to crumble.
This is writer/director Ariel Kleiman’s third film to be invited to Sundance – in 2010, his short film Young Love won an Honorable Mention in Short Filmmaking. And in 2011, his short Deeper Than Yesterday won the Jury Prize for International Filmmaking at Sundance, following its world premiere at Cannes Film Festival Critics’ Week. Partisan was co-written by Sarah Cyngler, and produced by Anna McLeish and Sarah Shaw.
Partisan has a strong relationship with Sundance with Ariel previously invited to workshop the project at the prestigious Sundance Directors Lab and both Sarah and Ariel invited to the Screenwriters Lab. A draft of the screenplay won the Mahindra Global Filmmaking Award at the 2012 Sundance Film Festival, which recognises four emerging independent filmmakers from across the globe.
Ariel Kleiman said, “Sundance is where everything started with my shorts, so to be able to go back there with my first feature is very exciting. So many of my filmmaking heroes have come through the festival and to be included amongst that history is such an honour. Also, I really like snow.”
Screen Australia’s CEO, Graeme Mason, said, “It is an incredible privilege for these filmmakers to have their films premiere at such a prestigious festival. It is a great opportunity for them to showcase original Australian features to the Sundance audience. With over 12,166 submissions received by the festival last year, it is one of the most coveted arenas to launch an independent film and careers.”
The Australian contingent will also be represented by Margot Robbie in Z for Zachariah, Guy Pearce in Results, Kodi Smit-McPhee and Ben Mendelsohn in Slow West with producer Emile Sherman, and Toni Collette in Glassland.
The annual Sundance Film Festival is part of the Sundance Institute founded by Robert Redford in 1981. The festival is internationally recognised for its discovery and support of independent films from around the world. It has showcased many Australian films including Young Love, Deeper Than Yesterday, The Babadook, 52 Tuesdays, Top of the Lake, Wish You Were Here, The Square, Mad Bastards, Shut Up Little Man! An Audio Misadventure, Bran Nue Dae and Animal Kingdom.
The Sundance Film Festival will take place 22 January – 1 February 2015.