Mora preps bio on Aussie WWI hero
Philippe Mora is planning a film that honours Sir John Monash, the Australian General who led the Allied forces which smashed through the German lines in the Battle of Amiens on August 8 1918.
“My opinion is that the Australian contribution to winning WW1 is under-appreciated internationally and this will be reflected in this new film,” said Mora, the French-born, Los Angeles-based filmmaker who grew up in Australia.
“My mother Mirka and my father Georges knew Monash's famous friend Lizzie Bentwich, who befriended them in 1951 as young immigrants from Paris. My dad drove her around in his van with an armchair in it for her.”
Mora hasn’t cast the lead role yet but said he’ll look for an actor who would become as synonymous with the General as was Peter O'Toole as Lawrence of Arabia. The victory prompted German General Ludendorff to concede, “August 8th was the black day of the German Army in the history of the war."
Mora plans to shoot the film, Monash, in 2014. A filmmaker who has the ability to work on multiple projects simultaneously, he’s just finished Absolutely Modern, a comedy about Modernism, muses and the role of sexuality in art, as related by famed art critic Lord Steinway.
When a black soccer player aged 29 confronts Steinway and claims to be his son, the story takes a modernist twist. Mora plays Steinway and former Chelsea star Mario Melchiot is the son. The cast includes Tequila Mockingbird, the curator of LA’s The Punk Museum, Clayton Watson (The Matrix Reloaded, 33 Postcards) and Rena Riffel.
Mora is arranging to premiere the film in Australia later this year. Currently he’s working on The Sound of Spying, an experimental 3D filmed musical about the Cold War and the Hollywood black list. He based the screenplay on unclassified FBI documents and other US government files.
John Apicella plays Winston Churchill, with John Jack Rodgers as Noel Coward, English actress Caroline O'Hara as Litzi Friedman, the first wife of Soviet spy Kim Philby, Rena Riffel in the dual roles of Marilyn Monroe and a Soviet control officer, and Brad Wilson as J. Edgar Hoover.
Polish composer Adrian Konarski has written 12 songs including "I Loved Kim Philby," "This Stage Has No Curtain," "Sexual Deviates," "Bloodlands," "The Lavender Menace" and “There's No Business Like Spybusiness," with lyrics by Mora. He’s shooting scenes in London and Poland in August.
Also on his slate is 2 Days In Auschwitz, a documentary which chronicles the history of the infamous Nazi concentration camp, triggered by his visits in 2010 and 2011. “Many previously undocumented camps came to light this year,” he said. “I discovered eight of my relatives were murdered in Auschwitz and that story is included. “
Currently in post-production, the documentary is a sequel to German Sons, which focuses on the director and his friend, German musician Harald Grosskopf, whose fathers were on opposite sides in WW2. German Sons had its Australian premiere at the You Don't Have to Be Jewish! Film Festival in Brisbane in February and screened this month at the Audi Festival of German Films in Sydney and Melbourne.