Media Releases 2010:
Screen Australia ends 2010 on a high investing in 28 projects


Thursday 2 December 2010

Screen Australia today announced production investment in 28 projects including five feature films, three television drama series, two low-budget television dramas, one children’s television series and 17 documentaries. Screen Australia’s investment of nearly $18 million in the 28 projects will trigger production worth almost $84.5 million.

“It’s great to end the year on a high note announcing such a diverse slate, with features including The Sapphires from talented Indigenous filmmaker Wayne Blair, The King Is Dead! by experienced auteur director Rolf de Heer, along with Dead Europe by one of our most promising new directors Tony Krawitz,” said Screen Australia Chief Executive Officer Ruth Harley.

Inspired by the hit stage play, The Sapphires (p: Rosemary Blight, Kylie du Fresne, w: Tony Briggs, Keith Thompson, d: Wayne Blair) tells the story of four women – young, black and talented – who are ‘discovered’ on a remote Aboriginal mission. Branded as Australia’s answer to The Supremes, they are dropped into the jungles of Vietnam to entertain troops.

Dead Europe (p: Emile Sherman, Iain Canning d: Tony Krawitz) is an adaptation by award-winning screenwriter Louise Fox of Christos Tsiolkas’ novel of the same name. Rolf de Heer’s The King Is Dead! (p: Rolf de Heer, Nils Erik Nielson) is a dark comedy about neighbours, ice and baseball bats.

“At a time when critics and audiences are loving Australian television drama, Screen Australia’s investment will see an outstanding line-up of groundbreaking television produced next year,” said Dr Harley.

New television drama includes internationally renowned director Jane Campion’s mini-series Top of the Lake (p: Emile Sherman, Iain Canning, Philippa Campbell, w: Jane Campion, Gerard Lee), part mystery, part thriller drama about finding happiness in a cool modern world littered with damaged histories.

The Phryne Fisher Murder Mystery Series (p: Fiona Eagger, Deb Cox, d: Tony Tilse, w: various) is a sensuous murder mystery series based on the novels of Australian author Kerry Greenwood.

Other television drama announcements include the series Wild Boys (p: Sarah Smith, Julie McGauran, d: Jeff Walker, Ken Cameron, Arnie Custo, Chris Martin Jones, Ian Watson, w: John Ridley, Jeff Truman, James Walker, Dave Warner, Michelle Offen, Margaret Wilson),
a first-time partnership between Screen Australia and Network Seven which follows the adventures of a gang of bushrangers in the 1850s.

Seventeen documentaries were announced, including five projects through the National Documentary Program. Australia on Trial (ep: Tony Wright, Ian Collie, d: Lisa Matthews, Malcom McDonald, Ana Kokkinos, w: Katherine Thomson, Ma Mannix, Andy Cox) raises significant questions around national identity through three pivotal controversial criminal trials in colonial Australia. Vietnam: The War Between Australia and the USA (p: Anne Delaney, d: Toby Creswell, Anne Delaney, w: Toby Creswell, Paul Ham) explores Australia’s relationship with the United States during the Vietnam War. The Man Who Jumped (p: Ed Punchard, Julia Redwood, w/d: Russell Vines) investigates what happened to the incarcerated asylum seeker who made headlines around the world after he leapt onto razor wire at Woomera Detention Centre in 2002 and why he did it.

Screen Australia also announced development investment in 45 feature films including new projects by Bryan Brown and Gregor Jordan, Leigh Whannell, Andrew Traucki, Peter Duncan, Adam Elliot, and Tony Ayres and Michael McMahon. A new project by the Wasted on the Young team of Ben C Lucas, Janelle Landers and Aidan O’Bryan was also announced. For full details on feature development investment from August to November 2010 see

Feature Drama

See Saw Films Pty Ltd
Producers Emile Sherman, Iain Canning
Writer Louise Fox
Director Tony Krawitz
Sales and Distribution Cross City Sales, Wild Bunch International Sales, Transmission Films
Synopsis Isaac, a late 20s Greek Australian, spirals out of control when he’s forced to confront his own family’s cursed legacy on his first trip to Europe – with the continent’s haunted past and troubled present pressing in on him.

Vertigo Productions Pty Ltd
Producers Rolf de Heer, Nils Erik Nielsen
Writer/Director Rolf de Heer
Sales and Distribution Fandango Portobello, Pinnacle
Synopsis An unsuspecting couple buy a house in what appears to be a quiet street... a dark comedy about neighbours, ice and baseball bats.

Goalpost Pictures
Producers Rosemary Blight, Kylie du Fresne
Executive Producers Ben Grant, Tristan Whalley
Writers Tony Briggs, Keith Thompson
Director Wayne Blair
Sales and Distribution Goalpost Film/Quickfire Film, Hopscotch Films
Synopsis Gail, Cynthia, Julie and Kay are sexy, black, young and talented – and they’ve never set foot outside Australia. Until, in the chaos of 1968, they’re plucked from the obscurity of a remote Aboriginal mission, branded as Australia’s answer to The Supremes, and – grasping the chance of a lifetime – dropped into the jungles of Vietnam to entertain the troops. Inspired by the hit stage-play of the same name.

Dragonet Films Pty Ltd
Producers Karen Radzyner, Michael Wrenn
Writer Miro Bilbrough
Director Miro Bilbrough
Sales and Distribution Wide Film Sales, Curious Distribution
Synopsis When Venice’s ex-hippy dad comes to stay in her tiny Sydney apartment primal emotions are stirred. At 40, the pain of childhood rejection is rekindled. How old is too old to be your father's daughter? Until Venice asks the right person the right question, she is condemned to ask it of all who cross her path.

Revival Film Company
Producers Richard Gray, Marc Goldenfein, John Finemore
Writer Richard Gray
Director Richard Gray
Sales and Distribution Sharmill Films/Jump Street Films
Synopsis Having grown up with her mother in Nevada, Heidi hasn't spoken to her father since she was seven. Now a young woman, haunted by his memory, she returns to Australia seeking closure. Travelling to her hometown, Heidi is forced to busk for cash and her melancholic violin score catches the attention of handsome orange picker Michael, who offers Heidi a ride. Both are initially guarded, but an unexpected connection soon blossoms.

Adult TV Drama

Every Cloud Productions Pty Ltd
Producer Fiona Eagger, Deb Cox
Writer Various
Director Tony Tilse
Broadcaster ABC TV
Sales and Distribution All3Media, ABC Commercial
Synopsis The Phryne Fisher Murder Mystery Series is a 13 x one-hour murder mystery series based on the novels of Australian author Kerry Greenwood. Our lady sleuth sashays through the back lanes and jazz clubs of late 1920s Melbourne, fighting injustice with her pearl-handled pistol and her dagger-sharp wit. Leaving a trail of admirers in her wake, our thoroughly modern heroine makes sure she enjoys every moment of her lucky life.

See-Saw Films Pty Ltd
Producers Emile Sherman, Iain Canning, Philippa Campbell
Executive Producers Jane Campion, Sharon Menzies
Writers Jane Campion, Gerard Lee
Director Jane Campion
Broadcaster BBC, ABC, TV3
Sales and Distribution BBC Worldwide, ABC Commercial
Synopsis A 12-year-old girl is found chest deep in the freezing waters of a South Island lake. She’s five months pregnant and when asked who the father is she insists: “No one”. Then she disappears. Detective Robin Griffin’s obsessive search for Tui unravels both Robin and the compromised town of Laketop.

Southern Star Entertainment Pty Ltd
Producers Sarah Smith, Julie McGauran
Writers John Ridley, Jeff Truman, James Walker, Dave Warner, Michelle Offen, Margaret Wilson
Directors Jeff Walker, Ken Cameron, Arnie Custo, Chris Martin Jones, Ian Watson
Broadcaster Seven Network
Sales and Distribution Endemol Worldwide Distribution
Synopsis Australia 1850s. Wild Boys follows a gang of bushrangers as they stage hold-ups determined to keep ahead of the troopers or wind up at the end of a noose.

Adult TV Series – Low-budget Drama

Dinosaur Pty Ltd
Producers Kate Croser, Dario Russo
Writers Dario Russo, David Ashby
Director Dario Russo
Broadcaster SBS TV
Sales and Distribution SBS Content, SBS TV
Synopsis Follows the adventures of five specialist secret agents assigned with the task of eliminating Hitler in a pulp-novel inspired, 1960s–70s interpretation of the Second World War.

High Wire Films and Electric Living Productions
Producer Nicole Minchin
Writer Jess Harris
Creators Jess Harris, Josh Schmidt
Director Paul Currie
Broadcaster ABC TV
Sales and Distribution ABC Commercial
Synopsis When best friends Jess and Josh left high school they never went to uni, never had a clear talent and never had a drive to grow up – until the pressure to conform sends them on a search for their big break.

Children's Television

The Chocolate Liberation Front Pty Ltd
Producer Dan Fill, Frank Verheggen
Executive Producer Michael Boughen
Writers Matthew Phipps and Sam Carroll
Director Luke Jurevicius
Director (Animation) David Webster
Story Editor Mark Sherrifs
Broadcaster ABC TV
Sales and Distribution ABC Commercial, ABC TV
Synopsis Figaro Pho is a warm-hearted, adorable, quirky and mischievous character… who just happens to be afflicted with a multitude of weird and wonderful phobias. Based on the award-winning series of shorts by Luke Jurevicius, this long-form series provides an even more intimate experience with the loveable character tragic character Figaro Pho.

National Documentary Program

December Films and Essential Media
Executive Producers Tony Wright and Ian Collie
Writers Katherine Thomson, Ma Mannix, Andy Cox
Directors Lisa Matthews, Malcolm McDonald, Ana Kokkinos
Broadcaster ABC
Synopsis Provides snapshots of colonial Australia, through the prism of three pivotal and controversial criminal trials that in a wider social and political context raised significant questions around national identity. At stake in each case were not just the necks of the defendants but the evolving ideas of identity and nationhood, as Australia grew from a dominion of the British Empire to a more autonomous federated nation by 1900. The three trials are the Eureka Trial, the Mount Rennie Rape Trial and the Myall Creek Massacre Trial.

Kapyong Pty Ltd
Producer John Lewis
Writer/Director Dennis K Smith
Broadcaster History Channel
Synopsis In 1951, following a rout of the South Korean army, the Chinese People’s Volunteer Army pursued their enemy to the lines of Australian and Canadian troops still digging fall-back defences, 12 kilometres to the rear. The battle fought at Kapyong became the turning point of China’s spring offensive. The aim of the offensive was to finally drive the foreign troops out of South Korea and into the sea. What happened instead, changed the history of the Korean War.

Prospero Productions
Producers Ed Punchard, Julia Redwood
Writer/Director Russell Vines
Broadcaster SBS
Sales and Distribution SBS
Synopsis In 2002, footage of an incarcerated asylum seeker leaping onto razor wire at Woomera Detention Centre made front-page news around the world. It became one of the most provocative and enduring images of the decade in Australia. But who was the man who jumped, why did he do it and what happened to him?

Renegade Films
Producers Lucy Maclaren and Alex West
Executive Producers Alex West, Joe Connor, Ken Connor
Director Jasmin Tarasin
Writers Dr Clare Wright and Alex West
Broadcaster ABC
Sales and Distribution ABC
Synopsis Historian Clare Wright investigates how and why Australian women fought successfully to become the first in the world to obtain equal political rights.

November Films
Producer Anne Delaney
Writers Toby Creswell, Paul Ham
Directors Toby Creswell, Anne Delaney
Broadcaster ABC
Sales and Distribution ABC Commercial
Synopsis How Australia discovered that its biggest battle in the Vietnam War was dealing with its best friend, the USA.

Documentary – Domestic

Zapruder’s Other Films
Executive Producers Anita Jacoby and Debbie Cuell
Series Director Debbie Cuell
Writer Debbie Cuell
Broadcaster ABC
Sales and Distribution ABC Commercial
Synopsis Documents the inspiring story of the people of Trundle, a small community of 485 in Central Western NSW, who plan to save their town from dying by giving families Australia-wide the chance to begin a new life in the country by living in an abandoned local farmhouse for just One Dollar A Week! It’s a story about how these newcomers will build new lives and friendships in this small community, and how the old traditional country community will come to accept these new families into their town.

Bearcage Films
Producer Michael Tear
Director Serge Ou
Writer Michael Cove
Broadcaster Foxtel
Synopsis At the end of the 19th century soldiers from Australia came under fire in Africa – they were the first of one and a quarter million Australian men and women to serve their country in war and conflict and in every continent except the one they called home. Amongst them were the first of more than one hundred thousand to die in the service of Australia. The chronicle of Australia’s soldiers from then till now is full of heroism, humour, mateship and larrikinism. It has bred perhaps the most enduring Australian icon – the digger. This is his story.

Cordell Jigsaw Productions
Executive Producers Michael Cordell, Nick Murray
Writer/Director TBC
Broadcaster SBS
Sales and Distribution SBS
Synopsis Six Australians agree to challenge their preconceived notions by living with, and as, refugees for one month. To do so, they will trace, in reverse, the journeys that real refugees took to reach Australia. In Episode I, the participants move in with a recently arrived refugee family and join them in their everyday lives... to work, to school and their social, cultural and religious activities. In Episode II, the Australians head for Indonesia, getting a first-hand account of refugee life in transit and why some board leaky boats even if there are structures for re-settlement in place. In Episode III, our participants travel all the way to (or near to) the countries of origin of their refugee hosts in Australia. There they will live in sprawling refugee camps or as destitute urban refugees. Along the route the participants will debate, argue and perhaps change some of their opinions. Not one will be untouched by their experience.

Carolyn Johnson Films
Producer Carolyn Johnson
Director Catherine Hunter
Broadcaster ABC
Synopsis Roger Law was the artist and energy behind the UK puppet show Spitting Image before he deported himself to Australia to explore his remaining artistic talent. Roger Law takes us on his journey of personal discovery through the wonders of Australian wildlife and his work in Jingdezhen porcelain.

Lowlands Media
Producer/ Writer/Director Robert de Young
Broadcaster Ovation
Sales and Distribution Ovation
Synopsis Peter Finch is the only actor ever to have received an Academy Award® for Best Actor posthumously, for his performance in the film Network (1976) where, as apocalyptic live newscaster Howard Beale, he tells a stunned American public to go outside and shout, “I’m as mad as hell, and I’m not going to take it anymore!” While Mad as Hell maps the career of actor Peter Finch, the film is much more than a biopic – this film provides an opportunity to explore, through the lens of Finch’s career, the complex relationship between Britain and her Australian colony during the 1940s and 1950s. Finch left an acting career in Sydney at the invitation of Laurence Olivier in 1948. Finch went on to work with some of the major stars and directors working in England and then Hollywood including Olivier, Vivien Leigh, Errol Flynn, Virginia McKenna, Glenda Jackson, Audrey Hepburn, Julie Christie, Alan Bates, Shelley Winters, Terence Stamp, Elizabeth Taylor, Jane Fonda, Angela Lansbury, Liv Ullmann, Faye Dunaway and William Holden. The film also includes frank interviews with three of Finch's daughters and unseen candid private photos.

Nirvana Films
Producers Rachel Clements, James Bradley
Writer/Director James Bradley
Broadcaster ABC
Synopsis A landmark exhibition on the history of the Australia–China trade in trepang (sea cucumber) opens in Beijing. It is the culmination of an extraordinary partnership between artists Zhou ‘Joe’ Xiaoping and the late Aboriginal artist JBB, forged over 20 years in remote Arnhem Land. As JBB’s son Paul and brother Peter attend the exhibition opening, Joe’s fascinating story unfolds in a compelling series of glimpses into his life and work. The cultural exchange that has been the basis of Joe’s life and work is powerfully played out as Peter and Paul explore Joe’s home country.

Documentary – International

Freehand Productions
Producer Colette Beaudry
Writer Matt Tomaszewski
Director Jeff Siberry
Broadcaster National Geographic
Sales and Distribution National Geographic, Australia and ROW, Freehand DG
Synopsis Welcome to the extraordinary life of dangerous animal expert Matt Wright. Raised in the rugged Australian bush, Matt now uses his unique skills and perspective to solve problems with animals that no-one else can. Fusing blue chip with ob-doc and wildlife adventure, In the Wild will follow Matt as he finds, captures and safely relocates some of the world’s most fascinating and dangerous animals with the simple objective of keeping humans safe from animals and just as importantly – keeping them safe from us.

Prospero Productions
Producers Ed Punchard, Julia Redwood
Writer Russell Vines
Director Russell Vines
Broadcaster SBS
Sales and Distribution Beyond Distribution
Synopsis For the first time in 25 years, a film crew has been given access to the highly secretive selection course for the Australian Special Air Service Regiment (SASR). This gripping two-part documentary reveals what it takes to join one of the most elite fighting forces in the world.

Ultramarine Films
Producer Edward Radford
Executive Producer Michael Lynch
Writer/Director Michael Lynch
Broadcaster National Geographic US / ABC
Sales and Distribution Off The Fence
Synopsis Sydney, Australia, 2009. Three terrifying shark attacks in as many weeks caused a wave of primeval panic to sweep through the city. Not since the last fatal shark attack in 1963 had the city been gripped by such collective fear. Shark Harbour follows a specialist ‘Shark Research Team’ – commissioned by the government in response to the attacks – as they conduct the most comprehensive and technologically advanced study of sharks that’s ever been undertaken in Sydney’s waters. They want to know if, in a city of nearly four and a half million people, surrounded by much loved and used waterways, sharks and humans can safely co-exist.

Documentary Special Initiatives – triple j tv docs

Flying Fish Films Pty Ltd
Producer Nubar Ghazarian
Consultant Producer Liz Burke
Writer/Director Benj Binks
Synopsis Mongolia has hip hop. It was beamed into the country, bringing with it foreign images of jewels, clothes and fame. In their haste to take in the outside world, many of the youth ignored their country’s rich musical history. A history that the Shamans believe holds the key to Mongolia’s success on the world hip hop stage. While many artists still aspire to the West, a handful are using hip hop to try and salvage their country’s struggling democracy, and bring Mongolia’s rich musical history into modern beats and rhymes.

The Tote Documentary
NicNat Films
Producer Nicole Rogers
Director Natalie Van Den Dungen
Synopsis Explores the rich musical history of one of Melbourne’s most renowned rock’n’roll pubs, the Tote Hotel in Collingwood, and the impact of its imminent closure.

Welcome To Mapworld
CraigFX Pty Ltd
Producer/Writer/Director Craig Anderson
Writer/Director Doug Bayne
Synopsis Comedy, animation and special effects combine in this essay documentary to ask the big questions: “What is it to be human? Do we need God? What is it with these maps?”

Feature Development

Screen Australia media enquiries
Teri Calder T: 02 8113 5833; M: 0408 440 995,