Australian film projects and filmmakers head to market at Cannes

Five Australian screen projects are headed to the Cannes market this May, presented by the Adelaide Film Festival.
'Lesbian Space Princess'. Image: We Made A Thing Studios/AFF

If you’ve been following international film news, you’ll likely already know about the premieres of The Surfer and Furiosa happening at the prestigious Cannes Film Festival this year.

Now, Adelaide Film Festival (AFF) has partnered with Cannes’ Marché du Film, the world’s largest film market, to showcase several more Australian films at the festival this May.

Five near-complete projects will be shown as part of the formal market presentation, and ten South Australian filmmakers will also attend as a delegation.

Alongside this AFF showcase, a student work called Withered Blossoms is making its premiere in Cannes’ La Cinef section. This makes Lionel Seah the first AFTRS international student to have their work selected for Cannes. Written and directed by Seah, an international student from Singapore when it was made, the Cantonese and English-language film follows a young woman who, after attempting to conceal her separation from a long-term partner, finally visits her grandma who is grappling with old age.

The production team on Withered Blossoms includes producer Miki Clarke, cinematographer T. Oxford, production designer Jordan Taylor, editor Jack Needle, and sound designer Kevin Chan, all of whom are in the Master of Arts Screen program at AFTRS.

Read: George Miller’s Furiosa: A Mad Max Saga to premiere at Cannes

Read more on the AFF showcase below.

AFF Goes to Cannes – Showcase Films

>Kangaroo Island. Image: AFF

Kangaroo Island

Director: Timothy David
Australia, Feature Fiction.
In post-production, 2024 release.

Lou Wells has hit rock bottom after a promising start to a career in Hollywood. Her ex needs her to move out, her friends are distancing themselves from her, and her talent agency ‘just isn’t excited by her anymore.’ Truth is, Lou Wells isn’t excited about Lou Wells either. Broke and aimless, she reluctantly accepts a ticket from her estranged father, Rory, to go home to Kangaroo Island, Australia. But what begins as a reunion to foster reconciliation turns complicated when Lou and her sister learn their father’s secret.

>Lesbian Space Princess. Image: AFF

Lesbian Space Princess

Directors: Emma Hough-Hobbs & Leela Varghese
Australia, Feature Animation
In post-production, 2024 release

A space princess is thrust out of her sheltered life and into a galactic quest to save her bounty hunter ex-girlfriend from the Straight White Maliens. Introverted space princess Saira is devastated when she is unexpectedly dumped by her girlfriend Kiki for being needy. Deep in the depths of despair, Saira is thrown a lifeline when Kiki abruptly calls for help. Kiki has been kidnapped by forgotten incels known as the Straight White Maliens. Problem is, they’re holding her ransom for the one thing Saira doesn’t have: one of the most powerful weapons known to lesbian kind – her royal Labrys! Panicked and with just 24 hours on the clock, Saira sets out to save her ex in the hopes of winning her back. Along the way, a spaceship with a problematic personality and Willow, a runaway gay-pop idol, join Saira’s hazardous encounters with gloom goo, blade-wielding maniacs, dangerous dick turrets and the scariest thing of all: her own self-doubt.

>Mockbuster. Image: AFF


Director: Anthony Frith
Australia, Feature Documentary
Seeking additional investment

If you’ve seen The Da Vinci TreasureAtlantic Rim and Tom Invader, you have been tricked by The Asylum, a US-based production company responsible for producing ‘mockbusters’ — low-budget films created to exploit the publicity of upcoming major releases. The Asylum have agreed to let Anthony, whose once-promising career brimming with creative ambition has since dwindled into a soulless corporate grind, direct a mockbuster in Australia. With only a micro-budget and six-day shoot, Anthony must deliver 90 minutes of usable footage towards his debut feature, a challenge that will push him and his ragtag crew to their limits. Will Anthony finally be able to balance his artistic aspiration with commercial reality? Or will this destroy his career and creativity entirely?

>The Iron Winter. Image: AFF

The Iron Winter

Director: Kasimir Burgess
Australia and Mongolia, Feature Documentary
In post-production, 2025 release

In Mongolia’s coldest valley, horses mean life. But in the Iron Winter, nothing can survive alone. For countless generations, the herders of the Tsakhir Valley have protected their horses from ferocious arctic storms by amassing a giant winter herd, nominating their bravest young men to protect it. The daring tradition served as a brutal coming of age ritual, until five years ago, when under increasing environmental pressure, it abruptly ended. Fearful about the loss of culture, elders soon vowed to revive it. And two young friends were handed the daunting responsibility to not only protect the valley’s herd — but to save its most sacred practice. For four months, the boys battle Mongolia’s deadliest winter on record, testing friendship and faith in a fight to keep 2000 horses alive, and preserve an ancient way of life.

>With or Without You. Image: AFF

With or Without You

Director: Kelly Schilling
Australia, Feature Fiction
In post-production, 2024 release

Chloe, 26, sets out to remove her entertaining but alcoholic mother Sharon from the claws of temptation, with plans to take them both to start new lives in idyllic Byron Bay. But when Chloe’s ex-boyfriend torches her caravan and everything in it, including her life savings, they find themselves on an unexpected road trip with a mysterious West African, Dalu, who’s also determined to make a better life for himself. Passions between Chloe and Dalu ignite, but Chloe resists. The last thing she wants is to follow in her mother’s footsteps by making repeated wrong choices in love. As the three embark on the road trip in Chloe’s rundown wagon, misconceptions, misunderstandings, and miscommunications along with humour, detours and wrong turns, lead to the realisation that facing your fears is the first step to freedom.

The 77th Festival de Cannes will be held from 14 to 25 May 2024.

Silvi Vann-Wall is a journalist, podcaster, and filmmaker. They joined ScreenHub as Film Content Lead in 2022. Twitter: @SilviReports