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08 12 2016 - Media release

Six Australian films selected for 2017 Sundance Film Festival


Berlin Syndrome

Screen Australia congratulates the creative teams behind the six Australian films selected for the 2017 Sundance Film Festival.

Revealed in a staggered announcement this week, Australian films RED DOG: True Blue, Berlin Syndrome, Killing Ground, Casting JonBenet (USA/Australia), Orbital Vanitas and Slapper will join approximately 200 international titles screening at the festival in Utah in January 2017.

“Whether it’s family films, chilling thrillers, fascinating documentaries, hard-hitting shorts or cutting edge virtual reality work, Australian stories travel well and so does our talent, which is reflected in the 2017 Sundance Film Festival selections,” said Screen Australia CEO, Graeme Mason.

“As the recent Screen Currency report demonstrated, Australia now boasts a $3 billion screen industry. Our home-grown content earns at least $252 million annually through exports and generates an estimated $725 million for tourism.”

“Our talent behind and in front of the cameras is one of Australia’s greatest assets and I’m thrilled to see our distinct narratives, memorable characters and spectacular landscapes taking pride of place at such a prestigious international film festival.”

“More than ever our local screen industry is part of global creative economy where Australian ingenuity is highly regarded.”

Berlin Syndrome – directed by Cate Shortland (Lore, Somersault), written by Shaun Grant (Snowtown, Deadline Gallipoli) and starring Teresa Palmer (Hacksaw Ridge, Wish You Were Here) – is one of twelve feature films in the World Cinema Dramatic Competition line-up. The psychological thriller, based on the novel by Melanie Joosten, follows a holiday romance which  turns sinister when an Australian photojournalist wakes one morning in a Berlin apartment, locked in and unable to escape. The film, which received development and production funding from Screen Australia, will have its world premiere at Sundance Film Festival.

“I am really excited to be screening our film at Sundance and to be part of such a diverse program”, said Berlin Syndrome director, Cate Shortland. “It feels like a great fit for Berlin Syndrome as the festival has always embraced cross genre work.” 

The unmistakably Australian RED DOG: True Blue – the prequel to 2011’s global hit Red Dog, from director Kriv Stenders (Kill Me Three Times, Boxing Day) and screenwriter Daniel Taplitz - will have its North American premiere in the Kids section of the festival. The film tells the story of 11-year-old Mick who, growing up on his grandfather’s lonely cattle station in the remote Pilbara, finds myth, adventure and friendship in a dusty kelpie pup that would go on to become legendary. The film received feature production funding from Screen Australia.

Thriller Killing Ground, from writer/director Damien Power, sees a young couple discover a bloodied toddler wandering in the bush near an isolated abandoned campsite, unleashing a chilling chain of events. Starring Aaron Pedersen, Ian Meadows, Aaron Glenane and Harriet Dyer, the Screen Australia -funded feature will have its international premiere as part of Sundance’s Midnight program.

Screening alongside fifteen world-premiere documentaries in the US Documentary Competition is Casting JonBenet from Australian director Kitty Green, whose 2013 film Ukraine is Not a Brothel was invited to appear at the Venice Film Festival. Her latest documentary offering shines a light on the unsolved death of six-year-old American beauty queen JonBenet Ramsey, which remains one of the world’s most sensational child murder cases. Casting JonBenet received support from Screen Australia through the Documentary Development and Producer programs.

Being presented as part of the New Frontier film showcase comes virtual reality work Orbital Vanitas from world-renowned video artist Shaun Gladwell (The Lacrima Chair, Storm Sequence) and collaborator Leo Faber. In a scenario that makes perfect use of the VR format, participants in Gladwell’s work are placed in Earth’s orbit. As they notice an enigmatic form floating towards them, the audience becomes part of a surreal sci-fi mystery that prompts reflection on life and death.

Slapper brings audiences closer to earth, to a suburban wasteland in rural Australia where a broke, angry teenager hustles money for the morning-after pill while stuck babysitting a wild and uncooperative five-year-old, determined to not let poverty strip her of her bodily autonomy. The short film won writer/director/producer Luci Schroder the Dendy Live Action Short Award at Sydney Film Festival and the Swinburne Award for Emerging Australian Filmmaker at Melbourne International Film Festival earlier this year. Slapper will screen as part of the Short Film program at Sundance in 2017.

The Sundance Film Festival will host screenings in Park City, Salt Lake City and at Sundance Mountain Resort from 19-29 January 2017.

For more information visit Sundance

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