Australian cinema has been going through some changes, and while the 2000s generally weren’t kind to local product, last year brought us some excellent examples of Australian filmmaking in all genres, from western Goldstone, to the dramatic Joe Cinque’s Consolation, and the wonderfully quirky Girl Asleep.
Not counting the films that are using Australia as a location to film in, including Disney’s two big franchise pictures Thor: Ragnarok and the latest Pirates of the Caribbean, 2017 is set to see some releases from heavy-hitting Australian filmmakers such as Cate Shortland, Fred Shepisi, Rachel Perkins, Warwick Thornton and Simon Baker.
Fred Schepisi’s first feature since 2013’s Words and Pictures, the Australian director re-teams with Clive Owen for a film about a man (Guy Pearce) who leaves the US to start a new life in the titular nation. However, after meeting a tall Australian woman, he winds up as the prime suspect in a murder investigation. With a massive cast that includes Gillian Anderson, Toni Collette, Essie Davis, Joanna Lumley and Vanessa Redgrave, this internationally focused production is based on the book by Peter Cameron.
Already selected to debut at Sundance, alongside Red Dog: True Blue and Killing Ground, this one comes from director Cate Shortland (Somersault, Lore), writer Shaun Grant (Snowtown) and stars Teresa Palmer (Hacksaw Ridge, Wish You Were Here). It’s a psychological thriller that follows a young Australian photojournalist whose holiday romance turns sinister when she wakes up locked in a Berlin apartment.
Based on the novel of the same name by Tim Winton, Simon Baker directs a cast that includes himself, Richard Roxburgh and Elizabeth Debicki. Set in 1970s coastal Western Australia, it follows two boys whose relationship with an older man pushes their boundaries.
Ozombies! When we first posted about this back in September last year, it got a massive response. The script, written by Yolanda Ramke who is co-directing with Ben Howling, is based on Ramke’s own Tropfest finalist entry in 2013. Stranded in rural Australia in the aftermath of a violent pandemic, an infected man (Martin Freeman) desperately seeks a new guardian for his infant child, and a means to protect her from his own changing nature.
A fictionalised account of the 2008 bombings of the Taj Mahal Palace Hotel in India, it takes a leaf from the 2009 documentary Surviving Mumbai. Anthony Maras (The Palace) directs an international cast that includes Dev Patel, Armie Hammer, Nazanin Boniadi, Anupam Kher, Tilda Cobham-Hervey, Jason Isaacs, and Natasha Liu Bordizzo.
Rachel Perkins (‘Redfern Now’, Bran Nue Dae) and writers Shaun Grant and Craig Silvey adapt Silvey’s novel for a 2 March release date in Australia. Levi Miller (Red Dog: True Blue) stars as 14-year-old Charlie Bucktin, whose life changes when the town’s Indigenous outcast Jasper Jones (Aaron L. McGrath) shows him the body of a dead girl. The racially charged film is set in the 1960s, as Charlie attempts to help find the killer.
This one has already had a fair bit of press, debuting last year at various festivals and screening rooms, but not getting its theatrical release until January 2017. Dev Patel delivers a terrific Australian accent as he sets out to find his real parents after being separated from them in India at the age of five. Garth Davis (Top of the Lake) also directs Nicole Kidman, Rooney Mara and David Wenham from a script written by Luke Davies (Candy) based on (you guessed it) the book by Saroo Brierley. Read Full Review >>
Warwick Thorton (Samson and Delilah) casts Hugo Weaving, David Wenham, Bryan Brown and Ningali Lawford Wolf in a thriller/western set in the Northern Territory during 1929. It concentrates on an Aboriginal stockman who kills the station owner in self defence, and the conflict between justice and reality.
Writer/director Ben Elton shoots his latest film in the fictitious ‘Westival’ music festival over the course of (you guessed it) three summers. Containing a theremin player, a dog washer and a genius fiddle player, the film is a dramatic comedy about inclusivity and politics in the country, and it should be on must-watch lists either way.
The latest exploration of artist Brett Whiteley’s works takes the form of drama, archival footage and visual effects as director James Bogle explores the life of an artist who not only won the Archibald twice, but is the only artist to have won all three major art prizes in Australia in the same year. Previously the subject of ABC’s Difficult Pleasure, it will be curious to see where this differs.