News in Brief: Cast of Fires revealed, Ascendant acquired by Goldwyn, and Rising Sun sold to FuseFX

Catch up with our fortnightly round-up of news, views, announcements and reviews from the world of Australian film, TV and games.


Filming is underway in Melbourne and regional Victoria on the six-part anthology drama Fires, inspired by extraordinary accounts from people who survived the catastrophic bushfires of late 2019 and early 2020. 

Produced by Tony Ayres Productions (TAP), and due to screen on the ABC later this year, the production announced a top notch and very experienced cast including Eliza Scanlen (Babyteeth), Sam Worthington, Richard Roxburgh, Sullivan Stapleton, Miranda Otto, Hunter Page-Lochard, Anna Torv, Kate Box, Helana Sawires, Daniel Henshall and Noni Hazlehurst. They are joined by newcomers Ameshol Ajang, Stacy Clausen and Nyawuda Chuol.

The writing team, led by showrunner/writer Belinda Chayko includes Jacquelin Perske, Mirrah Foulkes, Steven McGregor and Anya Beyersdorf. Producers are Elisa Argenzio and executive producer Tony Ayres, Andrea Denholm and Liz Watts, and Sally Riley and Brett Sleigh for the ABC. Directors are Michael Rymer, Ana Kokkinos and Kim Mordaunt.


Read more: Making Australia’s first show starring a transgender kid: Julie Kalceff


  • Despite defeat, mainstream exhibitors confident of government support. Michael Hawkins, the face of peak cinema operator body NACO, is confident that the big exhibitors will get a piece of the pie.
  • Box office: Peter Rabbit 2 doing okay as holidays start. Any dreams that audiences would flood back into cinemas over Easter were deflated by good weather and a lack of blockbuster choice.
  • Antaine Furlong’s debut thriller Ascendant has released this week in Australia and NZ on 160 screens through Maslow Entertainment. Samuel Goldwyn Films has acquired worldwide rights (International title is Rising Wolf) and will release in the US on 16 July. Filmed at Fox Studios and Sydney’s northern beaches during the pandemic, it’s set in Shanghai and follows Aria Wolf (Charlotte Best), a young woman who wakes, trapped, kidnapped in an elevator of a high­ rise building at the mercy of her tormentors. The film is written by Kieron Holland and Furlong, who produced alongside Kristy Vernon, James Vernon, and Drew Bailey, with Liz Furlong and Bec Kemp as executive producers. Watch out for our review next Tuesday!



Read: Meet Vanessa Alexander, international screenwriter extraordinaire


  • Award-winning South Australian PDV studio Rising Sun Pictures (RSP) has been acquired by international visual effects company FuseFX. FuseFX provides full-service visual effects for television, feature films, commercials, virtual and VR productions and has studios in Los Angeles, New York, Atlanta, Vancouver, Montréal, Toronto, and Bogotá. RSP Co-Founder Tony Clark will continue to lead the studio and operate under the Rising Sun Pictures brand.
  • The Australian Directors Guild (ADG) is running 40 short sharp Zoom mentoring sessions for members. Next up on Thursday 15 April is a 60-minute session with Corrie Chen
  • Matt Okine headlines $2m Screen Australia Enterprise funds. Highlights of the latest support from Screen Australia include Matt Okine and the feature documentary sector.
  • Meet the new CEO of the Australian International Documentary Conference. AIDC has promoted Natasha Gadd, its own Partnerships and Industries Development Manager, as its new CEO and Creative Director.
  • New appointments add edge to global push from production house Sweetshop & Green. Sweetshop & Green add to its roster of unique influences with Ester Harding and Alice Burgin who is supported by Screen Australia.
  • Oscars nomination for Adelaide VFX artists. Mr X, a SA Post, Digital and Visual Effects (PDV) studio, has been nominated for an Academy Award for Best Visual Effects for its work on Love and Monsters.


Brendan Harkin, founder and director of X Media Lab, passed away suddenly on Monday 15 March, 2021. Born in Melbourne, he was a pioneering figure in digital innovation and media and leaves an extraordinary legacy, and his loss is felt across the globe. You can read Brendan’s obituaries here or RSVP for a global virtual ceremony in celebration of his life (23/24 April) here.




Rochelle Siemienowicz is a journalist for Screenhub. She is a writer, film critic and cultural commentator with a PhD in Australian cinema. She was the co-host of Australia's longest-running film podcast 'Hell is for Hyphenates' and has written a memoir, Fallen, published by Affirm Press. You can find her on Twitter and Instagram