Five new feature projects add to Screen Australia line-up

The Last Impressario$4.3 million in funding has been approved by the Screen Australia Board for a wide variety of feature film projects in various stages of production.

“Funding includes support for debut feature directors, experienced production teams, an Australian book adaptation and stories targeted at domestic and international audiences,” said Screen Australia CEO, Graeme Mason.

“It is great to see such a diverse range of production taking place in Australia and this funding round continues to balance support for new and experienced talent in our sector.”

Two remarkable true stories that reflect our contemporary cultural identity were supported in this round. A Long Way Home is a poignant account of a five-year old Indian boy who gets lost, forcing him into a Calcutta orphanage and, eventually, a life with an adoptive family in Tasmania.

Years later, he endeavours to find his birth family. This is the directorial feature debut of Garth Davis, renowned commercials director and co-director of the critically acclaimed television series Top of the Lake, and is to be produced by Emile Sherman, Iain Canning and Angie Fielder.

Based on Timothy Conigrave’s classic book and theatre show, Holding the Man is produced by Kylie du Fresne (The Sapphires) and directed by Neil Armfield – acclaimed theatre director who returns to feature films after 10 years. The film is a moving romance of Tim and his lover, John Caleo – who meet at high school in the 70s. Its cultural, generational and social themes of a challenging 15-year relationship have relevance beyond the story’s cult status.

The futuristic sci-fi Infini, from director/producer/writer Shane Abbess and producers Mat Graham, Brett Thornquest and Sidonie Abbene, follows a rescue team trying to save the lone survivor of a freak accident on a mining station, who must race against the threat of a lethal biological weapon. Finishing funds will be provided by Screen Australia for this project, which features visual effects that will engage the imagination and transport audiences to another world.

Two thought-provoking feature documentaries were also provided with post-production support in this round. That Sugar Film, from first-time feature director Damon Gameau and producers Nick Batzias and Rory Williamson, will challenge Australian and international audiences’ perceptions of their habits forever,  as it explores the effect of sugar on our bodies and minds.

The Last Impresario by debut feature director Gracie Otto and producer Nicole O’Donohue profiles Michael White, a notorious octogenarian London theatre and film impresario, told from the perspectives of several great cultural personalities. This intimate documentary introduces audiences to the person behind iconic productions The Rocky Horror Picture Show and Monty Python and the Holy Grail.

Over the past year, Screen Australia has supported a range of feature projects including comedies Oddball, Sucker and comic drama The Dressmaker; thriller Backtrack; dramas Rest Home, Life, Ruin and Partisan; children’s drama Paper Planes; and theatrical documentaries Sherpa: in the Shadow of the Mountain and Only the Dead.

In television, projects have included bold dramas like Love Child, The Kettering Incident, Hiding, Gina, The Secret River, ANZAC Girls, Catching Milat and Deadline Gallipoli; children’s content The New Adventures of Figaro Pho, In Your Dreams Series 2, Mako Island of Secrets Series 2 and Little Lunch; and comedies including Danger 5 and Party Tricks, plus a whole range of emerging talent through initiatives such as Fresh Blood with the ABC.

With only one funding round to go this financial year, the Screen Australia Board has continued to support diverse projects based on their potential for: Australian audience appeal, cultural value, talent escalation, international sales and festival selection. Screen Australia assesses eligible feature projects against published criteria covering script, creative team, project viability and market strength.

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Image: Michael White – The Last Impresario