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28 01 2020 - Media release

Eight Australian projects selected to screen at Berlinale


H is for Happiness (Photo credit David Dare Parker)

Eight Australian projects have been selected to screen at the 2020 Berlin International Film Festival (Berlinale) including two features, two television series and four short films.

Screen Australia CEO Graeme Mason said, “To have eight Australian projects showcasing the immense talent of our local screen industry at this distinguished international festival is a huge achievement.”

“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 runs from 20 February to 1 March 2020.

High resolution images of the selected films here


1 x 10 minutes
Typecast Entertainment
Director: Tony Briggs
Writer: Tracey Rigney
Producer: Damienne Pradier
Executive Producer: Charlotte Seymour
Cast: Muraany Andy-Harrison, Uncle Wayne Atkinson, Uncle Rod Briggs
Synopsis: Two Elders feel that their grandson is old enough to start learning vitally important lessons that will equip him with the necessary tools to maintain the future survival of his culture. His classroom is the expansive country of his ancestors. But is he ready for the challenge that is placed before him, and will he know what to do when the time comes?
Australian Media Contact: Nicole Hurren E: [email protected]      
International Media Contact: Nicole Hurren E: [email protected]

Girl and Body
1 x 18mins
Boobook Media
Director: Charlotte Mars
Writer: Charlotte Mars
Producer: Ella Millard
Cast: Adele Perovic, Nancy Denis, Ling Cooper Tang, Sri Sacdpraseuth
Synopsis: After collapsing during rehearsals, a young dancer struggles to make sense of her mysterious medical condition and her even more enigmatic hospital roommate... A meditation on the relationship between mind, body and identity.
Australian Media Contact:  Ella Millard E: [email protected]
International Media Contact: Ella Millard E: [email protected]

1 x 13mins
Director: Jordan Giusti
Writer: Jordan Giusti
Producers: Chris Luscri, Hayley Surgenor, Melanie Millado, Jordan Giusti
Cast: Reuvi Kramer, Lucas Pittaway, Chanan Stollard, Gabriel Carrubba, Jack Bates
Synopsis: An imprisoned Jewish teen risks taboo by marking his skin with a tattoo design. Events take a darker turn after an encounter with a mysterious tattooist, whose true intentions are unclear.
Australian Media Contact: Chris Luscri  E: [email protected]     
International Media Contact: Chris Luscri  E: [email protected]     

H is for Happiness
1 x 102mins
Cyan Films & The Koop
John Sheedy
Writer: Lisa Hoppe
Producers: Julie Ryan, Tenille Kennedy, Lisa Hoppe,
Executive Producers: Richard East, Jonathan Page, Bryce Menzies, Avrill Stark, Grady Habib, Roger Savage
Cast: Richard Roxburgh, Emma Booth, Joel Jackson, Deborah Mailman, introducing Daisy Axon and Wesley Patten, with Miriam Margolyes
Australian Distributor: Universal Pictures Australian release date: 6 February 2020
International Sales: LevelK
Synopsis: 12-year-old with boundless optimism and a unique view of the world, is inspired by the strange new boy at school and sets out to mend her broken family - whatever it takes.
Australian Media Contact: Gabby Kwok - Liquid Ideas E: [email protected]   
International Media Contact: Tiffany Kizito - Organic E: [email protected]

High Ground
1 x 100mins
Maxo Studios, Bunya Productions and Savage Films
Director: Stephen Maxwell Johnson
Writer: Chris Anastassiades
Producers: David Jowsey, Maggie Miles, Witiyana Marika, Greer Simpkin, Stephen Maxwell Johnson
Executive Producers: Jonathan Nadji, Alfred Nayinggul, Adrian Gumurdul, Ryan Barrowei, Bessie Coleman, Michael Bangalang, Paul Wiegard, Silvio Salom, Vasili Papanicolou, Jack Thompson
Cast: Simon Baker, Jacob Jr. Nayinggul, Jack Thompson, Callan Mulvey, Witiyana Marika, Aaron Pedersen, Sean Mununggurr, Caren Pistorius, Ryan Corr, Esmerelda Marimowa, Maximillian Johnson
Australian Distributor: Madman Entertainment
International Sales: Playtime Group
Synopsis: 1919. WW1 sniper Travis, now a policeman in the vast and remote landscape of Northern Australia, loses control of an operation resulting in the massacre of an Indigenous tribe. With his superior officer intent on burying the truth Travis leaves disgusted before being forced back twelve years later in the hunt for outlaw Baywarra, an Aboriginal warrior attacking new-settlers. Recruiting mission-raised Gutjuk as his Tracker, Travis realises the young man is the only known massacre-survivor. When the truth of Travis’ past is suddenly revealed to Gutjuk, it is Travis who becomes the hunted…
Australian Media Contact: Michael Matrenza - Madman Entertainment E: [email protected]
International Media Contact: Joris Boyer - Playtime Group, E: [email protected]

Mystery Road series 2
6 x 52mins

Bunya Productions
Directors: Wayne Blair, Warwick Thornton
Writers: Blake Ayshford, Steven McGregor, Tim Lee, Kodie Bedford, Danielle MacLean
Producers: David Jowsey, Greer Simpkin
Executive Producer: Ivan Sen
Cast: Aaron Pedersen, Sofia Helen, Tasma Walton, Tasia Zalar, Rhimi Johnson
Australian Broadcaster: ABC
International Sales: all3Media International
Synopsis: A mangrove swamp. An endless sky. A headless body. Detective Jay Swan takes on a grisly case in order to be closer to his family, but has he left it too late? Set in a small coastal community where the desert meets the ocean, secrets past and present run deep and dark.
Australian Media Contact: Safia Van Der Zwan – ABC E: [email protected]
International Media Contact: Benjamin Sawyers, all3Media E: [email protected]

6 x 55mins
Matchbox Productions and Dirty Films
Directors: Emma Freeman, Jocelyn Moorhouse
Writers: Elise McCredie, Belinda Chayko
Producers: Sheila Jayadev, Paul Ranford, Kirsty Stark (Co-Producer), Georgie Pym (Associate Producer)
Executive Producers: Tony Ayres, Cate Blanchett, Elise McCredie, Liz Watts, Andrew Upton
Cast: Yvonne Strahovski, Jai Courtney, Asher Keddie, Fayssal Bazzi, Marta Dusseldorp, with Dominic West and Cate Blanchett
Australian Broadcaster: ABC
Australian air date: 1 March, 2020
International Sales: NBC Universal International
Synopsis: Stateless is a powerful and timely series about four strangers whose lives collide at an immigration detention centre in the middle of the Australian desert.
Australian Media Contact: Safia Van Der Zwan, ABC E: [email protected] and Asha Holmes E: [email protected]
International Media Contact: Tracey Jacques E: [email protected]

The Flame
1 x 12mins
Beyond Empathy/Fallingwater Films
: Nick Waterman
Writers: Dayannah Baker Barlow, Tyrese Fernando, Paul Spearim, Connie Taylor, Lance Whitton Jr, Megan Washington, Nick Waterman
Producers: Raphaela Rosella, Nick Waterman,
Executive Producer: Kim McConville 
Cast: Dayannah Baker Barlow, Tyrese Fernando, Lance Whitton Jr.
Synopsis: A young girl and boy in a remote town remember a time before a cold wind first swept across the land. It was when fire meant something different; when the fire was a warm, safe and familiar place for families to sit together; where stories were passed down, where culture was kept alive.
Australian Media Contact: Nick Waterman [email protected] 
International Media Contact: Nick Waterman [email protected] 

Mystery Road S2Mystery Road S2 (Photo credit David Dare Parker)

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