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 Australian Film 2010: The Year Ahead

 

Rochelle Siemienowicz
February 2010

 

The Waiting City - The Movie

 

The Waiting City

With a cracker year of Australian films behind us, it’s time to look forward and preview what’s coming to cinema screens in 2010. We’ll see vampire flicks, musicals and, romantic comedies. There are war stories and westerns, and lashings of creature-feature horror: sharks, squids, cane toads and even runaway trucks are all out there to get us. And on a more rarefied note of course, there are tender, moving dramas about families, and grief and loss and love; some of them award winning films that arrive home fresh from international festival success. And let’s not forget those small independent films that are hard to categorise and even harder to pin down for release dates.

 

This year we’ll see fresh new stars like Ryan Kwanten, Xavier Samuels and Sophie Lowe popping up all over the place, while established actors including Hugo Weaving, Sam Neill and Jacki Weaver continue to work hard. The profile of established (and awarded) actors like Gyton Grantley, Joel Edgerton, Brendan Cowell, Alex Dimitriades and Abbie Cornish will continue to grow.

 

2010 will see a number of award winning short filmmakers take the leap into feature territory – David Michôd, Claire McCarthy, Richard Gray, Leon Ford and Patrick Hughes among them. Meanwhile a distinct group of mid-career writer-directors are moving into their second and third features – including Rachel Perkins, Jeremy Simms, Shirley Barrett and the Spierig brothers. Meanwhile it’s great to see experienced director-writer teams like Nadia Tass and David Parker back in their hometown with a Melbourne project.

 

Animal Kingdom - The Movie

 

Animal Kingdom

So read on for a taste of what’s coming this year.  And remember, if there’s an Australian film you intend to see, why not catch it in the first crucial weeks of cinema release; by doing so you’ll be the supporting the industry.

 

A note on marketing and fan-based communities: this time last year it was still a relatively new phenomenon for individual films to have a website. Now, as social media continues to infiltrate every crevice of our lives, it’s almost a given that a film will not only have it’s own website, but this will be augmented with production blogs, YouTube clips, Twitter, and most prominently Facebook sites. This will allow regular updates and direct interactive communication with a potential fan-base – even when the film itself is far from completed or locked in to a release date.

 

In keeping with this development, our 2010 Australian Films Release Schedule will start to incorporate some of this information where possible. Note that dates may be subject to change and some films may go straight to DVD. This table will be updated on a fortnightly basis.

 

So read the full rundown below or skip through to our 2010 Australian Films Release Schedule for titles, dates and weblinks.

 

2010 FILM SCHEDULE

 

The year starts with a bang

 

2010 has barely begun, and already we’ve been treated to the exuberant Indigenous musical Bran Nue Dae (Roadshow) and the inventive Queensland vampire thriller Daybreakers (Hoyts) – both of which continue to do extremely well at the box office. There’s also the unique independent vision of Being in Heaven a personal film about spiritual transformation.

 

Beneath Hill 60 - The Movie

On 15 April, in time for Anzac Day, we’ll go Beneath Hill 60 for an heroic drama set in the trenches of World War I. Directed by Jeremy Sims (Last Train to Freo) and written by David Roach, the film is based on historical fact and is produced by documentary veteran Bill Leimbach. Beneath Hill 60 stars Brendon Cowell, Gyton Grantley and Steve le Marquand and is distributed by Transmission. War-history buffs will love the film’s fact-packed website.

 

Also set for an April release is Accidents Happen a comedy about family, fate and misfortune. Set in American suburbia in the 1980s, the Screen Australia and NSWFTO financed film is the debut feature from director Andrew Lancaster and is produced by Anthony Anderson (Somersault). Written by Brian Carbee, Accidents Happen stars Geena Davis, Erik Thomson and Harrison Gilbertson, and is distributed by Hopscotch.

 

One of the most anticipated films of the year is surely writer-director David Michôd’s feature debut Animal Kingdom (Madman, 29 April). Winner of the World Cinema Jury Prize at Sundance this year, the rave reviews keep coming for this psychological drama set in the criminal landscape of Melbourne. The story focuses on a young boy (James Frecheville) navigating survival amongst an explosive criminal family. The film stars Jacki Weaver, Joel Edgerton and Luke Ford and is produced by Liz Watts.

 

Love, laughter, tears

 

I Love You Too (Roadshow, 6 May) is a romantic comedy from the producers of Summer Heights High. With comedian Peter Helliar writing and Daina Reed directing, the story follows a commitment-phobic man-about-town (Brendan Cowell) and a “new age dwarf” (Peter Dinklage) as they go on a quest to win the women of their dreams. The film also stars Peter Helliar, Travis McMahon, Bridie Carter, Steve Bisley and Megan Gale.

 

Summer Coda - The Movie

 

Summer Coda

Wog Boy 2: The Kings of Mykonos (20 May) sees Nick Giannopoulos reprising his role as Steve, the good Greek boy who leaves Melbourne to visit the resort island of Mykonos, where he’s inherited a resort. The Paramount comedy also stars Vince Colosimo and Alex Dimitriades, and is produced by Giannopoulos and Emile Sherman, and directed by Peter Andrikidis (East West 101).

 

Scheduled for later in the year, Summer Coda is a romantic drama set in the orange groves of Mildura. The film boasts one of the prettiest websites around and will be worth seeing for the landscape photography alone. Written and directed by acclaimed short filmmaker Richard Gray (Yellow Brick Dreams) Summer Coda stars Rachel Taylor and Alex Dimitriades, with a supporting cast including Jacki Weaver, Susie Porter, Angus Sampson, Cassandra Magrath and Nathan Phillips. The film will be distributed by Sharmill Films and Jumpstreet Films.

 

Writer-director Claire McCarthy’s The Waiting City (Hopscotch) features Radha Mitchell and Joel Edgerton as a married couple whose relationship is under stress as they travel to Calcutta to adopt a child. Shot in India, the film premiered to great reviews at the 2009 Toronto International Film Festival and is due in cinemas in June.

 

Billed as ‘a love story that breaks all the rules’ Matching Jack is the anticipated film from director/writer team Nadia Tass and David Parker (Malcolm). Working from an original script by Lynne Renew, Matching Jack tells of a woman struggling with her son’s illness and her husband’s infidelity, when a chance encounter changes her life. Matching Jack will premiere at MIFF with a September release scheduled through 20th Century Fox. The film stars Jacinda Barrett, Richard Roxburgh, Tom Russell, James Nesbitt and Kodi Smit-McPhee.

 

The Tree - The Movie

 

The Tree

The Tree is the story of a young girl who believes her late father whispers to her through the branches of a favourite Moreton Bay Fig. An official France/Australia coproduction, The Tree was filmed in Queensland. Based on Judy Pascoe’s novel Our Father Which Art in the Tree, the film is directed by Julie Bertuccelli (Since Otar Left) and produced by Sue Taylor (The Shark Net). The film stars Charlotte Gainsbourg, Marton Csokas, Morgana Davies and Aden Young. Kojo Pictures will distribute The Tree later in 2010.

 

Fans of writer-director Shirley Barrett’s unforgettable Love Serenade will have high expectations for South Solitary  due for release through Icon in the second half of 2010. Miranda Otto, Marton Csokas, Essie Davis and Barry Otto star in a faltering romance that’s set in a remote lighthouse in the 1920s. South Solitary is produced by Marian Macgowan (Two Hands, Blessed) and Miranda Culley (Catch a Fire).

 

Thrills, chills, revenge and adventure

 

The Love Ones - The Movie

 

The Loved Ones

Australian filmmakers have embraced the horror/thriller genres with a vengeance, while for others the theme of revenge provides the impetus for some intriguing and genuinely scary-looking films:

 

An ultra-violent revenge thriller The Horseman already has a cult following in Australia where it won Best Film and Best Director at the 2008 Melbourne Underground Film Festival. Written and directed by Steven Kastrissios who produced alongside Rebecca Dakin, the film follows a devastated father (Peter Marshall) who goes after those responsible for his daughter’s death. Umbrella will release The Horseman in the first half of 2010.

 

A revenge western filmed in Victoria’s high country, Red Hill sports a visual style that’s been compared to No Country for Old Men and The Proposition. An official selection in the Panorama section of this year’s Berlin Film Festival, Red Hill tells the story of a young cop who has just moved to a small town. On his first day on duty he’s confronted with a prison break and an escaped murderer. Directed by award winning short filmmaker Patrick Hughes (The Director) and produced by veteran Al Clark and Greg McLean (Wolf Creek) the film stars Ryan Kwanten, Steve Bisley, Tom E Lewis, Kevin Harrington and Claire van der Boom. Distributed by Transmission, Red Hill is set for a mid 2010 release. Watch the teaser trailer here.

 

Writer-director Sean Byrne’s teen horror film The Loved Ones was a breakout success at the 2009 Toronto International Film Festival where it won the Cadillac People’s Choice Award in the Midnight Madness program (the runner up was Daybreakers). Described by some as a violent twist on prom story Pretty in Pink, The Loved Ones stars Xavier Samuel, Richard Wilson, Jessica McNamee, Victoria Thaine and John Brumpton. A MIFF premiere fund film, The Loved Ones first screened at MIFF 09 and is set for a general release through Madman in June.

 

The Horseman - The Movie

 

The Horseman

Filmed in Deniliquin NSW, The Clinic is a creepy-looking thriller about a mother’s worst nightmare. How far will she go to save her child? Written and directed by James Rabbitts the film is produced by Samuel Pinczewski and stars Tabrett Bethell, Freya Stafford, Andy Whitfield and Sophie Lowe. Check out the trailer here.

 

A runaway truck provides the horror in the supernatural thriller Road Train where a group of teenagers (Xavier Samuel, Sophie Lowe, Bob Morley and Georgina Haig) are menaced by a driverless three-trailer truck on a stretch of deserted highway. Written by Clive Hopkins and directed by Dean Francis (Vermin) the film comes from production company Prodigy Movies (Black Water, The Reef). The film is slated for late 2010 release. Check out the trailer.

 

It’s the end of the world as we know it…Sci-Fi/Disaster Films

 

Fans of the unashamed genre veteran Brian Trenchard-Smith will be looking out for Arctic Blast an Australia/Canada coproduction set in Tasmania. The story follows a brilliant geo-physicist (Michael Shanks) who is trying to save the world from a catastrophic chain of events that will set off a new ice age. (In keeping with the genre he’s also trying to save his marriage along with the future of the planet.) Produced by Gina Black and Stefan Wodoslawsky (with Antony Ginnane as an executive producer) and written by Jason Bourque, the film also stars Alexandra Davies and Robert Mammone.

 

Artic Blast - The Movie

Based on John Marsden’s bestselling teen novels, Tomorrow…When the War Began follows a group of teenagers who band together when their country is invaded and their families taken captive. The directorial debut of screenwriter Stuart Beattie (Australia,Collateral), the film will be distributed by Paramount late in the year with sequels to follow. The film’s young stars include Caitlin Stasey, Phoebe Tonkin and Rachel Hurd-Wood.

 

Don’t go in the water!

 

From the makers of Black Water comes The Reef, a story about a bunch of boaters stranded in the shark infested waters of the Great Barrier Reef. ‘Pray that you drown first’ is the terrifying tagline. Starring Damian Walshe-Howling, Zoe Naylor, Gyton Grantley and Kieran Darcy-Smith the film made waves with its live streaming blog during production. Writer-director-producer Andrew Traucki teams up again with Michael Robertson as producer and a release date projected for late 2010.

 

The Reef - The Movie

Comedy duo Ed Kavalee and Josh Lawson write and star in $quid: The Movie, a monster comedy about two friends pursued by a giant squid in the Brisbane River. Directed by Daley Pearson and Luke Tierney and slated for a late 2010 release, the film is already selling T-shirts and is active on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.

 

But wait there’s more!

 

Based on a series of popular books for children Guardians of Ga’Hoole is an Animal Logic 3D animated feature about a group of barn owls who live in peace until they’re threatened by an evil foe. Sporting the voice talent of Emilie de Ravin, Hugo Weaving, Helen Mirren, Abbie Cornish and Geoffrey Rush, the film is directed by Zack Snyder (Watchmen, 300) and will be released by Warner Brothers/Roadshow on 9 December.

 

A superhero film with a difference Griff the Invisible is the debut feature from award winning short filmmaker Leon Ford (Katoomba, The Mechanicals).  Hot Australian export Ryan Kwanten (True Blood) is all over Australian films this year, and here he is again as a mild mannered office worker by day and an invisible superhero by night. He falls in love with a beautiful young scientist (Maeve Dermody) who shares his passion for the impossible. Shot in Sydney, the film is produced by Nicole O’Donohue (Spider) and is due for a June release through Transmission.

 

Giff Invisible - The Movie

 

Ryan Kwanten in

Griff the Invisible

Directed by Jim Loach, Oranges and Sunshine tells the true story of Margaret Humphreys, a social worker who uncovered the scandal of forced migration of children from the UK to Australia. Starring Emily Watson, David Wenham and Hugo Weaving, the film is produced by Emile Sherman, Camilla Bray and Iain Canning and will be released by Icon.

 

Other films to track

 

We’ll be keeping an eye out for further news on a list of other as-yet-undated titles including: Dee McLachlan and Andrea Buck’s terrorism comedy Eliminated ; the legally suspended drama In Her Skin; writer-director Scott Murden’s The Dinner Party which premiered at Dungog 2009; James Harkness’ brothel-set Birthday; the sci-fi space thriller Ektopos; Russell Mulcahy’s Bait 3D, Louise Alston’s ‘womantic comedy’ Jucy – and no doubt many more that will emerge.   

 

Stay tuned for more news on what’s bound to be a fascinating year in Australian cinema.

 

2010 FILM SCHEDULE

 

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