Berlin: seven films from Australia

The Australian Film Commission (AFC) is pleased to reveal the seven films selected to screen across the Generation and Panorama programs at the 58th Berlin International Film Festival.
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Wednesday 16 January 2008: The Australian Film Commission (AFC) is pleased to reveal the seven films selected to screen across the Generation and Panorama programs at the 58th Berlin International Film Festival.

In a first for an Australian film, The Black Balloon has been selected as the opening night film for the Generation’s 14plus program. The Black Balloon was written by Elissa Down and Jimmy The Exploder and directed by Elissa Down. The film was produced by Tristram Miall with Anita Belgiorno-Nettis, Toni Collette, Sally Chesher and Mark Gooder attached as executive producers.

Also screening in the Generation 14plus program is the feature film September, written by Peter Carstairs and Ant Horn and directed by Peter Carstairs. September was produced by John Polson, co-produced by Serena Paull and Lynda House with Tony Forrest, Mark Bamford and Gary Hamilton attached as executive producers. This will mark the Tropfest feature film’s premiere European screening following its international premiere at Toronto in 2007.

Screening in the Generation Kplus program is the feature film Hey Hey It’s Esther Blueburger, written and directed by Cathy Randall and produced by Miriam Stein. This selection marks Hey Hey It’s Esther Blueburger’s world premiere.

The Black Balloon, September and Hey Hey It’s Esther Blueburger were all funded by the Film Finance Corporation (FFC).

In addition to the three feature films selected, the shorts, Meditations on a Name and Yolk have been selected to screen as part of the shorts program of Generation 14plus, and Nana has been selected to screen in the shorts program of Kplus.

Meditations on a Name was written and directed by Bonnie Elliot and produced by Genevieve Derwent and Suzy Spoon. Meditations on a Name was produced through the Australian Film Television and Radio School (AFTRS).

The AFC-funded Yolk was written by Stephen Lance and Cory Taylor, directed by Stephen Lance and produced by Damon Escott and Sally Madgwick with Trish Lake attached as executive producer.

Nana was written and directed by Warwick Thornton and produced by Kath Shelper. Nana was produced through the Bit of Black Business short drama initiative funded by the AFC’s Indigenous Branch, SBSi and the New South Wales Film and Television Office.

The Australian produced independent documentary Darling, about controversial
South African political satirist Pieter-Dirk Uys has been selected to screen
in Panorama. Written and directed by Julian Shaw and produced by Jonathon
Green, this marks the world premiere of Darling.

“The number of Australian films selected into Berlin over the last three years has been significant,” said AFC Chief Executive Chris Fitchett. “It is very pleasing to once again have a strong line-up of Australian films at one of the premiere events on the international film festival calendar. The AFC congratulates all those involved with these productions.”

In addition to the festival selections, it was announced this week that Australia was also successful in securing two projects into the Berlinale Co-Production Market – Salt and Nuclear Family. Salt is written by Priscilla Cameron and Heather Phillips, to be directed by Priscilla Cameron and produced by Heather Phillips and has received Development Funding from the AFC. Nuclear Family is a US/Australia co-production, written by Mary Beth Caschetta, to be directed by Melanie Rodriga and to be produced by Amy Hobby, Ryan Hodgson and Melissa Kelly.

The Berlinale Co-Production Market is a three-day pitching event for producers, sales agents, distributors, as well as broadcasting and funding representatives active in the field of co-production.

The full Berlinale program for all sections will be announced in late January.

The Berlin International Film Festival runs 7-17 February 2008, for more information see www.berlinale.de/en/HomePage.html.

Media Enquiries: Aja Shanahan Avviso PR for the AFC
ajas@avviso.com.au, 02 9358 5982

FEATURES

The Black Balloon
(97 mins)
Production Company: Black Balloon Productions Pty Ltd
Exec Producers: Anita Belgiorno-Nettis, Toni Collette, Sally Chesher, Mark Gooder
Producer: Tristram Miall
Director: Elissa Down
Writers: Elissa Down, Jimmy The Exploder
International Sales: Icon Entertainment International
Australian Distribution: Icon Film Distribution
Cast: Rhys Wakefield, Gemma Ward, Luke Ford, Erik Thomson, and Toni Collette

Produced and developed with the assistance of the Film Finance Corporation, New South Wales Film and Television Office and the Australian Film Commission.

Synopsis:
It’s not easy being Thomas Mollison (Rhys Wakefield). He’s turning 16, and his autistic brother Charlie embarrasses him. So do his wacky parents. When his pregnant mother (Toni Collette) is confined to bed rest, he is left in charge of Charlie (Luke Ford) and with the help of his new girlfriend Jackie (Gemma Ward), Thomas faces his biggest challenge yet.

Hey Hey It’s Esther Blueburger
(103 mins)
Production Company: EB Productions Pty Ltd
Producer: Miriam Stein
Director: Cathy Randall
Writer: Cathy Randall
International Sales: Lightning Entertainment
Australian Distribution: Buena Vista International
Cast: Keisha Castle-Hughes, Danielle Catanzariti, Essie Davis, Russell
Dykstra, Christian Byers and Toni Collette

Produced and developed with the assistance of the Film Finance Corporation and South Australian Film Corporation.

Synopsis:
Hey Hey It’s Esther Blueburger is a coming-of-age comedy that explores what it’s really like to be an outsider in your own world.

September
(85 mins)
Production Company: Tropfest Feature Program
Exec Producers: Tony Forrest, Mark Bamford, Gary Hamilton
Producer: John Polson
Co-Producers: Serena Paull, Lynda House
Director: Peter Carstairs
Writers: Peter Carstairs, Ant Horn
International Sales: Arclight Films
Australian Distribution: Hopscotch Films
Cast: Xavier Samuel, Clarence John Ryan, Kieran Darcy-Smith, Kelton Pell, Alice McConnell, Lisa Flanagan and Mia Wasikowska

Produced and developed with assistance from the Film Finance Corporation, Movie Network and the New South Wales Film and Television Office.

Synopsis:
September is a tender story about two boys on the cusp of adulthood, 16-year-old Paddy and Ed – one black, one white – whose friendship begins to fall apart under the pressures of the turbulent social changes happening around them.

DOCUMENTARIES

Darling
(54 mins)
Production Company: Greenlight Productions Pty Ltd
Producer: Jonathon Green
Director: Julian Shaw
Writer: Julian Shaw
Sales Contact: Jonathon Green
Cast: Pieter-Dirk Uys, Nelson Mandela, Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Evita Bezuidenhout

Synopsis:
Controversial South African political satirist Pieter-Dirk Uys allows writer/director Julian Shaw into his previously off limits inner world. The result is a startling document of Pieter’s work educating school children about their country’s greatest threat, HIV/AIDS, and an unforgettable portrait of the power of individual will.

SHORTS

Meditations on a Name
(9 mins)
Production Company: AFTRS
Producers: Genevieve Derwent, Suzy Spoon
Director: Bonnie Elliot
Writer: Bonnie Elliot
Sales Contact: Ruth Saunders
Cast: Alice Ansara, George Shevtsov

Synopsis:
Wattle hates her name – she’s suffered through it her whole life. A long hot day on the road sees Wattle and her hippy father Rajen have it out, once and for all.

Nana
(6 mins)
Producer: Kath Shelper
Director: Warwick Thornton
Writer: Warwick Thornton
Sales Contact: Flickerfest Short Film Bureau
Cast: Mitjili Napanangka Gibson, Kiara Napurrula Gibson

Produced and developed with the assistance of the Australian Film Commission Indigenous Funding Initiative, SBS Independent and the New South Wales Film and Television Office.

Synopsis:
Nana’s granddaughter thinks Nana’s pretty special. She loves her Nana because she helps the old people, she’s a good painter and other people love her too. Nana’s got everyone everyone under control.

Yolk
(15 mins)
Production Company: Head Pictures
Exec Producer: Trish Lake
Producers: Damon Escott, Sally Madgwick
Director: Stephen Lance
Writers: Stephen Lance, Cory Taylor
Sales Contact: Stephen Lance
Cast: Audrey O’Connor, Hamish Irvine, Skye Wansey

Produced and developed with the assistance of the Australian Film Commission.

Synopsis:
When Lena, a 15-year-old girl with Downs Syndrome, steals a sex book from a mobile library, her mother forces her to take it back in an embarrassing family spectacle that only strengthens her daughter’s rebellious and irrepressible desire.

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