- Stephen Maxwell Johnson’s tough Northern Territory Western High Ground has premiered to strong reviews at the Berlin Film Festival and Variety reports that US rights have been acquired by Samuel Goldwyn. Produced by Maggie Miles, Witiyana Marika, Stephen Johnson, David Jowsey and Greer Simpkin, High Ground will be released in Australia by Madman later this year.
- In other news from busy Bunya and Berlin, Memento Films International is handling world sales on Leah Purcell’s Aussie revenge tale The Drover’s Wife. Produced by Bain Stewart and David Jowsey,The Drover’s Wife stars and is directed by Purcell, based on her successful stage play. Roadshow will release it here.
- Netflix has acquired global rights to Stateless, the 6-part refugee drama co-created by Cate Blanchett, Elise McCredie and Tony Ayres, and premiering here on ABC TV on March 1. You can read our advance four-star review by Chris Boyd here.
- Eleven creatives have been selected to travel to New York in April 2020 as part of Talent USA: New York. The delegation, announced by Screen Australia, will attend the Australian International Screen Forum and take part in professional development and networking. They are: writer-directors Rodd Rathjen, Ben Lawrence, Alison James, Vanessa Gazy and Erin Good; filmmaker Josephine Mackerras; screenwriters Stuart Page and Mithila Gupta; writer-producer-director Belinda Chayko; producer Meg O’Connell; and producer-writer Claire Tonkin.
- The 18 members of the new iteration of Screen Australia’s Gender Matters Taskforce have been announced. The Screen Australia KPI goal is for 50% of the key creatives across all projects that receive development and production funding to be women, across a three-year-average. Returning members include Chair Joanna Werner, Deanne Weir and Lisa French and full committee includes Sarah Bassiuoni, Tania Chambers, Liz Doran, Anusha Duray, Bonnie Elliott, Rachel Griffiths, Monique Keller, Rosie Lourdes, Kristy Matheson, Que Minh Luu, Meg O’Connell, Rachel Okine, Fiona Tuomy, Melinda Wink and Sophia Zachariou.
- Janine Hosking has been announced as the recipient of the 21st Stanley Hawes Award, given for Outstanding Contribution to the Documentary Sector in Australia. Hosking’s career highlights include producing and directing My Khmer Heart and Ganga Queen for HBO, 35 Letters (which won Best Documentary at the 2014 Sydney Film Festival), and her most recent doco, The Eulogy, nominated for an AACTA Award in 2019. The award will be presented as part of the Monday morning opening address at AIDC 2020 on 2 March in Melbourne.
- Screenwriters Philip Tarl Denson and Lâle Teoman have been announced as the winners of the 2019 Monte Miller Awards. The premier awards for unproduced scripts in Australia were presented this week in Melbourne by the Australian Writers Guild (AWG). Denson took home the award in the Long Form category with his sci-fi pilot Anomaly, while Teoman received the Short Form award for her web series The Black Tulip. The two writers share in $35,000 in script development funding.
Production & Development
- Screen Australia has announced almost $750,000 of Story Development funding for nine feature films, 11 television series and two online projects. It’s always interesting to identify the recurrent themes and ideas Australian screenwriters are playing with right now. In the mix this time, we see supernatural themes, lots of sci fi, female sexuality and friendship, global travel, and short story adaptations from Melanie Cheng and Maxine Beneba Clarke. There’s a BMX Bandits reboot, a Van Vuuren-written Leyland Brothers comedy, and a feature film for Corrie Chen and Penelope Chai (Empty Empire). Click through for complete lists of approvals (across both Premium and Generate strands) for television, online and feature film.
- Film Victoria has announced a $3 million Indian Cinema Attraction fund to strengthen ties with the world’s biggest film industry.
- Screen Queensland has launched it’s ‘Make it in Far North Queenland’ (FNQ) program. The strategic three year plan is in partnership with Screenworks, Australia’s peak regional screen industry group.
Events, Conferences, Networking
- The 2020 Australian International Documentary Conference (AIDC) kicks off on 1 – 4 March at the State Library in Melbourne. Screenhub will be there reporting. Look out for us.
- The NSW chapter of the Australian Screen Editors is holding Sundowners networking drinks for editors on Sunday 1 March, 3-6pm at Courthouse Hotel, 202 Australia St, Newtown. Now with added networking games and trivia. Look for the red balloons!
- Desiree Akhavan is the American writer, director and actor best known for her breakout feature Appropriate Behaviour and TV series The Bisexual. She’s appearing in conversation in Melbourne (March 2) and Sydney (March 23), talking about acting, directing and developing projects within the Indie sector. Presented by the Australian Directors’ Guild, Screen Australia, RMIT and AFTRS, this is a free event but you’ll be very lucky to get a ticket.
Opportunities and Deadlines
- Women in Film and Television (WIFT) are calling for submissions from those wanting to be mentors or mentees as part of the MentorHer 2020 program. Deadline 9 March.
- The Stan and Film Victoria Comedy Fund is open for applications. The joint initiative aims to support Victorian writers and producers to develop Australian comedy, and is seeking ‘stories that respond to Stan’s Creative Brief (PDF) and feature relatable characters with unique dilemmas fuelling the comedy for a multi-season run.’ The successful applicants will receive up to $30,000 to develop a 30-minute pilot episode and series outline. Deadline is 19 March 2020.
- Screen Australia and Snapchat have teamed up with an initiative aimed at developing premium short-form mobile series. They’re looking for experienced creatives and offering up to $15,000 per team. Applications close 5 March.
- Submissions are open for the 2020 Australian Directors Guild Awards. Deadline is 10 March. Nominees in the 21 categories will be announced 1 April, and winners on 11 May.
- TV Review: Chris Boyd says Stateless is gripping to the very end.
- Movie Review: Mel Campbell says Miss Fisher and the Crypt of Tears is one for the fans.
- Documentary Review: Anthony Morris says The Leunig Fragments depicts a boy who never grew up.
In case you missed it
- Indies celebrate as Kickstarter votes to unionize.
- This week at the box office: Crowds dig documentaries but dog Disney.
- An interview with Essie Davis on glamour, get-ups and compromises.
- Documentary filmmaker Maya Newell: ‘Don’t be afraid of doing things differently.’
- We love sport. We love movies. But movies more than sport?
- What’s streaming in March?
- Series Mania stays sane about Australian shows.