Director Alister Grierson will achieve a rare feat this ANZAC weekend as his debut feature film Kokoda screens on SBS on Saturday night and his most recent project, telemovie Parer's War premieres on ABC Television on Sunday night.
Grierson leapt at the chance to direct the upcoming ABC telemovie Parer's War when he heard that producer Andrew Wiseman was looking for a director. Grierson's debut feature in 2006 was Kokoda, based on the true story of a platoon of Australian soldiers stranded in the infamous Papua New Guinea jungle in 1942. "I knew I could bring a really strong, cinematic vision to Parer’s War" Grierson said. "I'd walked the track and was intimate with the material from my experience making Kokoda. Parer's War was a fantastic opportunity for me to revisit and explore parts of the story we couldn't get to before. I really felt like I had to make this film."
Grierson has forged a reputation as a successful feature film director – on the back of Kokoda, he was invited by James Cameron to direct the $30M Sanctum 3D which went on to become the ninth highest grossing Australian film in history with a world-wide box office gross of over $110M and a rare theatrical release in China. But he is equally excited by the opportunities offered by television. After Parer's War Grierson directed episodes of Matchbox Pictures' award-winning ABC series; Nowhere Boys where he relished the speed, energy and focus of a television set. "I think that having the agility to move between mediums is really important for your development as a director", Grierson said. "With this particular project, I had the creative freedom to draw on my cinema background to tell the story of an iconic Australian, for Australian television".
Kokoda received considerable praise from the critics when it was released. "Kokoda draws comparisons with Gallipoli if for no other reason than it will come to be similarly regarded as a landmark in Australian cinema," said Colin Fraser from Filmink. Jim Schembri of The Age gave it a rare five-star review.
As fate would have it, Kokoda will screen this coming ANZAC day weekend on SBS, the day before Parer's War premieres on Sunday night on ABC. "Yeah, I probably couldn't have planned that better myself, I'm not sure if that's ever happened before. We'll also be in the unusual situation where our star, Matt Le Nevez, will be attending the Logies on the same night Parer's War screens", Grierson said.
Grierson's next project is again a feature – the epic biblical story Mary which will shoot later this year on location in Matera, Italy. With a budget of $25M, it will be released by Lionsgate in the US in 2015.
Alister got his start in short film – his comedy short BOMB won several awards at Tropfest and was later one of only sixteen films in Tropfest's history to screen in the "Best of the Best" event in Las Vegas.