Screen News in Brief – festivals, conferences, seminars, glory

Eight go to Berlin, AFTRS gets sharp about info intensives, gongs galore for actors, and Netflix joins Bunya to support Indigenous talent in LA.

Australians at Festivals

Eight Australian projects will screen at the 2020 Berlin International Film Festival (Berlinale, 20 Feb – 1 March 2020).These include two feature films (H is for Happiness, directed by John Sheedy, written by Lisa Hoppe; and High Ground, directed by Stephen Maxwell Johnson, written by Chris Anastassiades). There are also two ABC television series: Stateless, directed by Emma Freeman and Jocelyn Moorhouse, written by Elise McCredia and Belinda Chayko; and Mystery Road Series 2, directed by Wayne Blair and Warwick Thornton, written by Blake Ayshford, Steven McGregor, Tim Lee, Kodie Bedford, Danielle MacLean). The four short films screening at the Berlinale are: Elders (directed by Tony Briggs, written by Tracey Rigden), Girl and Body (written and directed by Charlotte Mars), Grevillea (written and directed by Jordan Giusti), and The Flame (directed by Nick Waterman, written by Dayannah Baker Barlow, Tyrese Fernando, Paul Spearim, Connie Taylor, Lance Whitton Jr, Megan Washington & Nick Waterman).

Relic, the Australian psychological horror film from director Natalie Erica James, co-written with Christian White, has premiered in the Midnight section at Sundance Film Festival (23 Jan – 02 Feb 2020). There’s been high praise, including from the Hollywood Reporter, which called the film an assured debut and a ‘disturbingly effective allegory for the ravages of dementia’. Umbrella will release the Victorian-shot feature later this year. 

True crime documentary Into the Deep, has premiered in the world cinema documentary competition at Sundance, amidst some controversy. Written and directed by Australian Emma Sullivan, commissioned by Netflix and produced by Australian Roslyn Walker and Denmark’s Mette Heide, the film covers the case of inventor Peter Madsen, whose submarine went missing off the coast of Copenhagen in 2017, with journalist Kim Wall on board, later revealed to be murdered. Variety calls it ‘Restrained, humanist and chilling… both a portrait of evil and a story of the workers left ashore floundering to understand how they devoted their lives to a fiend.’ One of the key subjects portrayed in the film is, however deeply unhappy, and cinematographer Cam Matheson has stated he does not endorse the film being shown in its current form.

January 26 Honours

Each year we pick through the list to find the names that resonate within our sector. In 2020 they include: Professor Larissa Behrendt, Hugo Weaving, Rachel Griffiths, Helen Leake, Heather Mitchell, Rachel Maza, Katrina Sedgwick and many more

Bunya Talent Indigenous Hub LA Participants Announced

The nine creative teams (13 individuals) who will participate in the inaugural Bunya Talent Indigenous Hub in Los Angeles in March have been announced. The five-day talent incubator, presented in association with Netflix Australia and Screen Australia’s Indigenous Department, is aimed at mid career Indigenous writers, showrunners, directors and producers, who will develop and pitch projects and attend meetings. At the end of the incubator, one participant’s work will be selected to proceed further with Bunya Productions as producers and receive up to $20,000 in further development funding from Screen Australia and Netflix. The participants are: 

  • Aaron Fa’Aoso (Blue Water Empire, The Straits)

  • Nakkiah Lui (Black Comedy, Get Krack!n, Kiki and Kitty) and Miranda Tapsell (Top End Wedding, Get Krack!n, The Sapphires)

  • Tony Briggs (The Sapphires, Elders) and Damienne Pradier (Laurel’s Story – From Sapphire to Saigon)

  • Dena Curtis (Thalu, Grace Beside Me)

  • Adrian Russell Wills (Redfern Now, Black Divas) and Gillian Moody (Nice Shorts, Little J & Big Cuz)

  • Ryan Griffen (Cleverman)

  • Jub Clerc (The Heights, Molly and Cara)

  • Dylan River (Robbie Hood, Mystery Road S2) and Tanith Glynn-Maloney (Robbie Hood, She Who Must Be Loved)

  • Shari Sebbens (The Heights, The Sapphires, Thor Ragnarok)

Ausfilm has a new leader of its international production incentives program based in Los Angeles

Ausfilm, Australia’s industry association for screen service businesses responsible for attracting international film and television productions to Australia, has completed its search for the Los Angeles based role of Executive Vice President of International Production and appointed Erin Stam.

In this role, Stam will oversee and lead the Ausfilm Los Angeles team, with a focus on continuing to attract international production to Australia, marketing Australia’s production tax incentives, promoting the country as a screen destination and matching Australian creative teams with United States executives through Ausfilm’s B2B Connect program – all with the intention to increase production activity to grow Australia’s screen sector and attract significant foreign investment into Australia’s economy.

Stam has wide-ranging expertise across screen production in both the United States and Australia. She previously spearheaded development at two Australian state government screen agencies, Film Victoria in Melbourne and Screenwest in Perth and brings fluency and knowledge of Australian federal and state screen production incentives, as well as the capabilities of the Australian screen sector. Prior to her work in Australia, Stam served as SVP of Production at Participant Media and Spyglass Entertainment.

Events & Opportunities

Adelaide: Tuesday Talks – via Exclusive Live Stream from AFTRS, from 4 February at Media Resource Centre, Mercury 6pm. Free but bookings are essential. Sharing this popular AFTRS talk event, this livestream networking event is an initiative of of the Australian Writers Guild SA, supported by SAFC. Kicking it off this year, the talk will feature Eureka, a young powerhouse of creativity in Australian and international TV production, and creators of Holey Moley for ABC and Dating Around for Netflix, with credits including The Real Dirty Dancing, Drunk History and more. The blurb says: ‘TV Talks host, Andrew Garrick, with founders and principals of Eureka, Chris Culvenor and Paul Franklin, will discuss how they’ve built this extraordinary company, what’s next, and how they see the world of television changing in the years to come.’

The Screenrights 2020 Cultural Fund is open for applications. The Fund awards up to $50,000 for projects that ‘foster the creation and appreciation of screen content in Australia and New Zealand. Note, this is not a development or production fund, but a screen culture initiative. According to James Dickinson, Screenrights’ Chief Executive, Our 2020 focus on ‘New Voices’ is about advancing those who, for whatever reason, have found doors not readily open to them… That might be due to their living in a remote location, or because of a language barrier, a social, economic or accessibility disadvantage or a lack of confidence that anyone will back their project. Applications close on Wednesday 29 April, 5pm AEST.

The Australian International Documentary Conference has released its 2020 program which runs from March 1-4 in Melbourne. 

Short, Sharp and Immediately Useful is a new monthly program from AFTRS and the Arts Council of Australia which concentrates on high value topics for screen and general arts people. It kicks off on Thursday 27 February with the vexed topic of Blockchain.

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