Feathers in cap for Penguin Bloom at TIFF?

'Penguin Bloom' premiered at Toronto International Film Festival, delighting audiences and dividing critics.

Penguin Bloom might not charge into our shameful cultural history, but it could make friends across our popular culture. Premiering at the 2020 Toronto International Film Festival, the feel-good film stars Naomi Watts as a a disabled mother who develops a profound emotional connection with a magpie.

While it has divided its reviewers around the Toronto screening, none would query the quality of the film’s cast and crew. Director Glendyn Ivin excels at distilling truths about loss and pain from stories and performers in a culture that prefers to go surfing than have a good honest cry. Working with Harry Cripps, writer Shaun Grant started with a film in which the family dog is shot (Snowtown), and found his way eventually to Jasper Jones and then The True History of the Kelly Gang, so he knows a lot about emotional range. And working with strong directors. The producers are Bruna Papandrea, who knows how to work with US popular culture, Emma Cooper, Steve Hutensky, Jodi Matterson and Naomi Watts. 

Unlock Padlock Icon

Unlock this content?

Access this content and more

David Tiley was the Editor of Screenhub from 2005 until he became Content Lead for Film in 2021 with a special interest in policy. He is a writer in screen media with a long career in educational programs, documentary, and government funding, with a side order in script editing. He values curiosity, humour and objectivity in support of Australian visions and the art of storytelling.