Aussie WW1 drama plans Cannes premiere

17 February, 2014 by Don Groves

William Kelly’s War, a drama set during WW1, will premiere in Cannes in May and be released in Australian cinemas in September.

Based on a true story, it’s the saga of two brothers and their cousin who leave their outback home to go to war and come back to find their family is under siege from a gang of bushrangers.


The writer-director is Geoff Davis, whose only previous experience as a feature director was a micro-budgeted 2003 film, Laughing Stock, a comedy about a middle-aged rock band whose life turns sour, which featured Bud Tingwell.

Davis works for a software company and has spent years in multi-media so he was familiar with digital effects and the post production process.

The producer, Phil Avalon, is in talks with sales agents to represent the film when it premieres at the Cannes market.

Davis’ sons Josh and Mat play the brothers, Billy and Jack Kelly, Lachlan Hulme is their cousin Paddy and Tony Bonner is their father. Much of the film was shot in the back paddock of Davis’ farm near Leongatha in country Victoria. The working title was The Stolen.

Davis raised enough money, including some from friends, to shoot 65 minutes of footage using a RED camera and digital effects to simulate explosions and gun fire. Avalon raised additional funds to shoot the climactic scenes dealing with the homecoming.

The drama was inspired by Davis’ favourite film in his youth, John Ford’s The Searchers, which he embellished into a bedtime story he told his sons when they were kids.

Explaining the decision to use his sons, Davis said, “They are very physical roles. We could not afford stand-ins. But Josh and Mat have done martial arts. I didn’t doubt they could do the acting. They got better as we went along. I’m really proud of the movie."

It will be released in Australia by IFM/Filmways.