Three Australian Titles Selected for Venice Days and Venice Critics’ Week

By July 30, 2015 Industry News
3 titles

Screen Australia congratulates the producers and creative teams of Australian films Early Winter, Tanna and The Daughter, which have been selected for the prestigious Venice Days and Venice Critics’ Week – the independent parallel sections of the 72nd Venice International Film Festival 2015. Tanna will screen in competition in Venice Critics’ Week, Early Winter will screen in competition and The Daughter will screen out of competition as the closing night film in Venice Days.

Richard Harris, Head of Business and Audience at Screen Australia, says: “Venice is one of the most prestigious film festivals in the world, so to have such a great representation of Australian films across these competitions is a great result. The diversity of these films speaks volumes about the current depth of Australia’s creative filmmaking talent.”

Tanna is set in the South Pacific where Wawa, a young girl from one of the last traditional tribes, falls in love with her chief’s grandson, Dain. When an inter-tribal war escalates, Wawa is unknowingly betrothed as part of a peace deal. The young lovers run away, but are pursued by enemy warriors intent on killing them. They must choose between their hearts and the future of the tribe, while the villagers must wrestle with preserving their traditional culture and adapting it to the increasing outside demands for individual freedom. Tanna is based on a true story and performed by the people of Yakel.

It stars Marie Wawa, Mungau Dain, Marceline Rofit, Albi Nangia and Chief Charlie Kahla.

Directors Bentley Dean and Martin Butler say: “The tribe from Vanuatu who acted in Tanna had never seen a feature film before and we’d never made one. Walking the red carpet together for the world premiere at such a prestigious festival will be enormously exciting.”

Tanna is supported by Contact Films, Screen Australia, Film Victoria and Screen NSW.

Early Winter (a Canadian/Australian co-production) tells the story of a man in quiet crisis, working long hours at a rest home to support his family, which he feels may be on the edge of collapse. 2010 Cannes Caméra d’Or–winning director Michael Rowe (Leap Year, The Well) is based in Mexico and has worked on only Spanish-language films until now.

Michael both wrote and directed Early Winter, drawing on real life insights from his family’s and friends’ experiences as health-workers in nursing homes in country Victoria in Australia. Reinterpreted for a Canadian setting, Early Winter draws on universal themes of loneliness, detachment and isolation within relationships.

It stars acclaimed Canadian actor Paul Doucet (Unité 9, Funkytown) and the 2012 Cannes Best Actress in Un Certain Regard, Suzanne Clément (Mommy, Laurence Anyways).

Director Michael Rowe says: “I was interested in exploring a relationship breakdown or crisis point, that was intensified by the isolation that a winter brings on. And the broader themes of immigration and isolation experienced by people when they’re out of context and trying to emotionally survive in environments that aren’t their own. These are ongoing themes in my films.

“Cinema has a way of putting up a mirror to people about their own lives and experiences. Hopefully, it can also open up possibilities for improving the way people live. At the end of the day, I feel that happiness and living well doesn’t have a whole lot to do with circumstances. It has a lot more to do with knowing how to be happy and how to interact with people around you. I think we often get trapped in emotional cycles.”

Early Winter is a Melbourne International Film Festival project, which will screen in an alternative version at Venice Days, as a world premiere. The film is supported by SODEC, Telefilm Canada, Screen Queensland, Screen Australia and the MIFF Premiere Fund.

The Daughter is renowned Australian theatre director Simon Stone’s first foray into cinema, inspired by his stage interpretation of The Wild Duck by Henrik Ibsen. It’s the story of a long-buried family secret that re-emerges when a man returns home, which threatens the lives and relationships of two families in a small Australian town.

The Daughter stars Geoffrey Rush (The King’s Speech, Pirates of the Caribbean), Ewen Leslie (Dead Europe, Jewboy), Paul Schneider (The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford, Bright Star), Miranda Otto (The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King, Reaching for the Moon), Anna Torv (Deadline Gallipoli, Fringe) and Sam Neill (The Piano, Jurassic Park) and introducing rising star, Odessa Young. It’s produced by Jan Chapman (The Piano, Lantana) and Nicole O’Donohue (Griff the Invisible, The Last Impresario).

Producers Jan Chapman and Nicole O’Donohue say: “We are honoured that The Daughter has been selected as part of Venice Days for Closing Night and pay tribute to our ensemble cast, dedicated Australian crew and our writer/director Simon Stone who has been acknowledged in this way for his first feature film.”

Director Simon Stone says: “I’ve always loved the Venice Film Festival and Venice Days is such an exciting section to be invited to. I just can’t wait to share our film with audiences there.”

The Daughter is supported by Screen Australia, Screen NSW, The Gingerbread Man and Kazstar.

ABOUT THE FILM EVENTS

Venice Days
Venice Days began in 2004 as an independent event on the fringes of the Venice Film Festival, modelled on the prestigious ‘Directors’ Fortnight’ of the Cannes Festival. Its aim is to draw attention to high-quality cinema, without any kind of restriction, with a focus on innovation, research, originality and independence. Since it began, the Days have come to represent a real alternative to the festival’s official areas and a place for authors, producers, distributors and journalists to meet and discuss their ideas in an informal environment. There are 12 films selected from all over the world, which are screened in the theatres provided by the Venice Film Festival.

Venice International Film Critics’ Week
Critics’ Week is designed to discover new talents, identify emerging trends and promote quality films. The event is organised by the Italian National Union of Film Critics (within the Venice International Film Festival) and a panel of five judges each year select seven films.
The selected films compete for an audience prize that is awarded by the spectators present on Lido Island. This prize has facilitated national and international distributors in acquiring several titles thereby helping films to find audiences beyond the Venice Film Festival. The films otherwise may have remained unknown for Italian and international audiences.

FILM DETAILS
 
THE DAUGHTER

Genre Drama
Production Company Jan Chapman Films & Wildflower Films
Writer/Director Simon Stone
Producers Jan Chapman, Nicole O’Donohue
Cast Geoffrey Rush, Ewen Leslie, Paul Schneider, Miranda Otto, Anna Torv with Odessa Young and Sam Neill
Sales Mongrel International
Australian Distribution Roadshow Films
Media Enquiries charlotte@mongrelmedia.com and Harriet_Dixon-Smith@roadshow.com.au
Synopsis In the last days of a dying logging town Christian returns to his family home for his father Henry’s wedding to the much younger Anna. While home, Christian reconnects with his childhood friend Oliver, who has stayed in town working at Henry’s timber mill and is now out of a job. As Christian gets to know Oliver’s wife Charlotte, daughter Hedvig and father Walter, he discovers a secret that could tear Oliver’s family apart. As he tries to right the wrongs of the past, his actions threaten to shatter the lives of those he left behind years before.

EARLY WINTER

Genre Drama
Production Company Possibles Media (CAN) and Freshwater Pictures (AUS)
Writer/Director Michael Rowe
Producers Serge Noël, Trish Lake
Co-producer Dan Lake
Executive Producer Richard Cohen (AUS)
Cast Suzanne Clément, Paul Doucet
Sales Pyramide International
Australian Distribution Rialto
Co-production Canada, Australia
Media Enquiries Magali Montet (Paris) magali@magalimontet.com
Synopsis David works solitary shiftwork as a janitor in a retirement home. He dotes on his children and plies his wife with the latest gadgets. But when he suspects she’s having an affair, dark secrets from his past threaten to overwhelm him. From 2010 Cannes Caméra d’Or–winning director, Michael Rowe, and featuring acclaimed Canadian actor, Paul Doucet, and the 2012 Cannes Best Actress in Un Certain Regard, Suzanne Clément.

TANNA

Genre Drama
Directors Bentley Dean, Martin Butler
Writers Bentley Dean, Martin Butler, John Collee and the Yakel community
Producers Martin Butler, Bentley Dean, Carolyn Johnson
Cast Marie Wawa, Mungau Dain, Marceline Rofit, Albi Nangia, Chief Charlie Kahla.
Sales Visit Films
DVD/SVOD Distribution Umbrella Entertainment
Theatrical Distribution Contact Films in collaboration with Bonsai Films
Media Enquiries Alicia Brescianini alicia@cg-publicity.com, Cathy Gallagher cathy@cg-publicity.com
Synopsis In one of the last traditional tribes in the South Pacific, a young girl, Wawa, falls in love with her chief’s grandson, Dain. When an inter-tribal war escalates, Wawa is unknowingly betrothed as part of a peace deal. The young lovers run away, but are pursued by enemy warriors intent on killing them. They must choose between their hearts and the future of the tribe, while the villagers must wrestle with preserving their traditional culture and adapting it to the increasing outside demands for individual freedom. Based on a true story and performed by the people of Yakel.

Films selected for the official Venice International Film Festival program will be announced next Wednesday 29 July 2015. The festival will run 2–12 September 2015.