“To have eight Australian projects showcasing the immense talent of our local screen industry at this distinguished international festival is a huge achievement,” said Screen Australia CEO Graeme Mason. “As an industry we are really punching above our weight when it comes to creating premium television drama and to have powerful new series Stateless and the second series of Mystery Road making their World Premieres at Berlinale is testament to that success.”
“Berlinale has a strong history of celebrating distinctive Australian films and helping to launch the international careers of some of our best filmmakers, so it’s fantastic to have debut feature director John Sheedy’s H is for Happiness in competition in Generation Kplus and Stephen Maxwell Johnson’s High Ground having its World Premiere.”
H is for Happiness also has the honour of opening the Generation Kplus program. Director of H is for Happiness, John Sheedy said, “We are incredibly thrilled that H Is for Happiness will be having its International Premiere at the Berlin International Film Festival but also to be honoured with the opening slot for Generation Kplus. We are all very excited to be a part of this world class festival and humbled to be amongst such exceptional filmmakers. Happiness is a little film with a giant heart beating inside of it and we look forward to sharing it with audiences at the Berlinale and the opportunities that may arise from being a part of such a prestigious event.”
High Ground producer and cast member, Witiyana Marika said, “I loved making High Ground and being in my first film role, I’m hoping it will make our old people proud. For me it’s dedicated to all Australian First Nations people, paying respect to those who have gone before.”
Stateless co-creator, executive producer and actor, Cate Blanchett said, “It is an extraordinary honour to be launching Stateless at Berlinale as part of their series programme. This project has been a labour of love for many years and we are enormously grateful to Screen Australia, the ABC, NBC Universal and South Australian Film Corporation for their vital and unwavering support. Our hope is that the series will generate a non-fear based conversation around the effectiveness of the systems we are all labouring under and how our humanity has been affected by them.”
Co-director of Mystery Road series two, Wayne Blair said, “We worked on a story with a crew and cast that supported us two hundred percent. Jobs like this don’t come up all that often where you’re allowed to work with your family. I hope people are proud of it as much as we are.”
Four Australian short films will screen at this year’s festival including Elders directed by Tony Briggs which will make its European Premiere in the Generation Kplus program. The short received development and production funding through Screen Australia’s Indigenous Department initiative Short Blacks, which focuses on the professional development of emerging Indigenous filmmakers.
Screen Australia funded short film Girl and Body from writer/director Charlotte Mars will make its International Premiere at Berlinale Shorts. Short films The Flame and Grevillea will have World Premieres in the Generation 14plus program. Two Australian directors Michael Leonard and Hannah Dougherty have been selected to participate in the Berlinale Talents program, as well as film critic and journalist Debbie Zhou.
Goalpost Pictures will take a new series in development Dark Victory to Co Pro Series, an exclusive pitching event that is part of the Berlinale Series Market to seek international partners. The series is written and directed by Matthew Saville whose credits include Please Like Me and Upright.
Australia has a history of success at the Berlin International Film Festival with previous Crystal Bear winners including Sophie Hyde’s 52 Tuesdays (2014), Tilda Cobham-Hervey’s short film A Field Guide to Becoming a 12-Year-Old Girl (2018), and Kim Mordaunt’s The Rocket (2013). Recent Australian Berlin selections have included Buoyancy and 2040 in 2019, Picnic at Hanging Rock in 2018 and Cleverman in 2016.
The Berlin International Film Festival continues to 1 March 2020. For more information, visit: www.berlinale.de for details.
Image: H is for Happiness – photo by David Dare Parker