News in Brief: year begins with modified hope and modest dreams

Screen Forever moves online, ACMI's set to reopen, and classy Australian films screen at cinemas. Here's what you need to know this fortnight.


  • Box Office: The Dry is a great start to the year for Australian screen sector. Heading towards $7 million, the results will be making the core team of Harry Cripps, Robert Connolly, Steve Hutensky, Jodi Matterson and Bruna Papandrea very happy, as well as ageless leading man/producer Eric Bana.
  • From the same production team, and coming up next is Penguin Bloom (Roadshow, 21 Jan). Glendyn Ivin directs this adaptation of the best-selling non fiction book. Naomi Watts stars as the young wife and mother who finds hope through a baby magpie after she’s paralysed by a near-fatal accident.
  • The week after sees the release of the much anticipated High Ground (Madman, 28 Jan) and the lower profile  Operation Rainfall (Monster, 28 Jan).


  • Now in its 35th year, Screen Forever, the premier Australian screen conference, was originally planned as a combined in-person and digital event hosted from the new home on the Gold Coast. But due to the evolving COVID situation in Queensland, SPA yesterday announced the move to make it all go digital. Tickets here.
  • The 12 ‘Ones to Watch’ emerging producers for this year’s program have been announced by SPA. Each participant will be given the opportunity to apply for the $15,000 First Look Grant (supported by SBS) and $10,000 Screen Internship (supported by Screen Australia).
  • The 12 Ones to Watch are: Hayley Adams, Passionfruit Bites (VIC); Joanna Beveridge, Paraverse Picture (NSW); Peter Daly, Delirium Animation (VIC); Philip Tarl Denson, Odd Pirate (NT); Joshua Longhurst, Wintergarden Pictures (NSW); Chris Luscri, Flood Projects (VIC); Ljudan Michaelis-Thorpe, Zero Divide Media Productions (QLD); Danielle Redford, Loveology Films (QLD); Ruby Schmidt, Toy Shop Entertainment (QLD); MahVeen Shahraki, Thousand Mile Productions (NSW); Clare Sladden, Broken Head Productions (QLD); and Liz Tomkins (QLD).
  • SPA and TikTok are launching the ‘Got a Minute?’ pitching competition at Screen Forever and calling for participants to submit a pilot for a high quality 10 x 1 minute series. Three finalists will pitch their series to a panel of industry experts where the winner will be chosen and take home $15,000 in funding from TikTok, two project development sessions with Lee Naimo, Senior Investment Manager at Screen Australia, and a TikTok content strategy mentorship. In addition, two runners up will receive $5,000 each in production investment and mentorship. Submissions close 8 Feb.
  • A new Kids Publishers’ Market has also been added to SPA Connect for the first time. Screen producers will find themselves on the receiving end of pitches from leading publishers and literary agents representing children’s books. Already confirmed for the panel moderated by Suzanne Ryan (CEO SLR Productions) are: Carey Schroeter (Allen & Unwin); Leone Hodgson, (Walker Books); Rochelle Manners (Wombat Books); Anjelica Rush (Hachette); Nerrilee Weir (Penguin Random House); Clare Forster (Curtis Brown); and Kate McCormack (University Queensland Press).


  • The Australian International Documentary Conference (AIDC) 28 Feb – 3 March will run almost completely online this year, with some screenings and associated events in real life. Register here.
  • The annual event for the non-fiction screen and digital media industries this year features the inaugural awards for completed films, as well as the annual Stanley Hawes Award for a person who has made a substantial contribution to the sector. Nominations for the Stanley Hawes Award can still be made until midnight Sunday 17 January.
  • AIDC marketplace has just announced an impressive lineup of decision-makers from streaming giants Amazon, Hulu and Netflix.To participate in our marketplace activities, including ‘Cut to the Chase’, which closes for submissions on Sunday 31 January, you must hold an AIDC All Access pass.


  • Bangalow Film Festival: 14 -23 January. A mix of indoor and outdoor screenings, including the opening night restoration of Fellini’s 1960 masterpiece La Dolce Vita, plus High Ground, Penguin Bloom and documentary The Truffle Hunters. The festival will be held at the Bangalow Showgrounds and the A&I Hall.
  • Flickerfest hits Bondi Beach from 22-31 January, screening just over 200 short films from Australia and across the world before touring nationally from February to October. The Academy® Qualifying and BAFTA recognised short film festival celebrates 30 years this time, and promises a COVID Safe festival garden, including The Famous Spiegeltent indoor cinema, an outdoor lawn cinema and festival garden bar. Opening night selection includes the Australian premiere of Furlough, the directorial debut of actress Phoebe Tonkin and produced by Jessica Carrera; and the animated black comedy Roborovski, directed by actors Tilda Cobham-Hervey and Dev Patel and written by John Collee.
  • Environmental Film Festival Australia (EFFA), 21 Jan – 04 Feb, presents Summer of Change, the second of four seasonal virtual series of documentaries and shorts. Includes Sally Ingleton’s documentary Wild Things, and a program for kids and younger viewers.
  • Sundance Film Festival 2021 will run both online and in-person events, from 28 Jan to 3 Feb. This year, Sundance snaps up three Australian films: VR film Prison X – Chapter 1: The Devil & The Sun; feature documentary Playing with Sharks, and short film GNT.
  • Palm Springs Film Festival has been cancelled this year but awards will still be given and announced 25 Feb.
  • Adelaide Festival 2021 (with some film components including a David Gulpilil retrospective) will run 26 Feb – 16 March.
  • Australian short film Dwarf Planet has been invited to screen in international competition at the Clermont-Ferrand Film Festival online edition (29 Jan – 6 Feb). Dwarf Planet is directed by Adrian Chiarella (Black Lips) and produced by Bek Janek (Dots, 2067). The synopsis reads: ‘A lonely, awkward teenager hires a male sex worker on a brisk morning in suburban Sydney.’


  • Following a $40 million redevelopment of its Fed Square home, the Australian Centre for the Moving Image (ACMI) will reopen on 11 Feb 2021. The reconfigured space promises to be more open and relaxed, with a staircase to connect the building and new spaces to sit in.
  • The first major film program in the new space will be a special presentation of films by Wong Kar Wai, known for his beautiful and evocative imagery. Love and Neon: The Cinema of Wong Kar Wai (11 – 27 Feb) is presented in association with Sydney Film Festival, NFSA, QAGOMA and Mercury CX. The eleven feature films include In the Mood for Love, As Tears Go By, and Days of Being Wild. This catnip for cinephiles is also available in Sydney.



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ScreenHub​ is the online home for emerging and experienced Australian screen professionals.