The best actor award for Charlie’s Country’s David Gulpilil in Certain Regard and a standing ovation for David Michôd's thriller The Rover capped off a memorable Cannes Film Festival and market for Australian cinema.
It was that rare combination of critical acclaim for the Aussie films that screened in the festival and a solid volume of deal-making for films that were sold at the market.
“We had consistent feedback from sales agents and buyers on the calibre of Australian talent and projects, which they are tracking with real interest,” Screen Australia head of marketing Kathleen Drumm tells IF.
“Producers reported fewer but quality meetings as momentum around Australia continues to enable good marketplace access. However it remains hard to raise finance without high profile cast, directorial talent, demonstrable marketing hooks, clarity on audience and a budget that matches a project's commerciality.
“Sales for Australian films were solid despite the reported soft marketplace, with Lion and Son of a Gun being the two standout performers.”
International buyers also snapped up The Dressmaker, Jocelyn Moorhouse’s 1950s-set comic drama that’s due to shoot in Victoria in October, produced by Sue Maslin and starring Kate Winslet, Judy Davis, Liam Hemsworth, Isla Fisher and Elizabeth Debicki.
The Weinstein Co. is in exclusive negotiations for US rights to The Water Diviner, Russell Crowe’s directing debut in which he plays a farmer who goes to Turkey after WW1 in search of his sons who went missing after Gallipoli. TWC has offered $US4 million, according to Deadline.com.
Visit Films closed deals for Rolf de Heer’s Charlie’s Country to Benelux (Cinemien) and Greece (Feelgood Entertainment) and for Sophie Hyde’s 52 Tuesdays to Spain (Cinebinario) and Germany (Salzgeber). That followed deals for the US, the UK, Benelux and Hong Kong concluded in Berlin for the gender-bending drama.
Producers report increasing interest from international producers in mounting co-productions with Australia and New Zealand. “I had five or six new international projects pitched to me in Cannes, " says Mark Overett, one of the instigators of the multi-national co-prod Iron Sky. “The fact that the NZ/Denmark Treaty was signed in Cannes is testament to this.”
Overett garnered strong sales agent interest for his upcoming thriller Mongrel, to be directed by Jonathan auf der Heide, and German international sales agent K5 confirmed its intent to handle Samoan hip-hop love story Fresh As, directed by Justine Simei-Barton
Producers Pam Collis and Amanda Dow pitched two projects, No Kissing and Chasing Aliens, in 41 meetings and each time was asked to forward scripts. “From this response we are extremely positive for landing distribution from some of the top players in the industry, “says Pam.
As IF has reported, in one of the biggest deals signed in Cannes, TWC paid more than $US12 million for worldwide rights excluding Australasia to Garth Davis’ Lion, a drama based on the true story of an Indian-born Australian who found his birth mother 25 years after they were separated.
A24 took US rights to Son of a Gun, a crime thriller from first-timer director Julius Avery, starring Ewan McGregor, Alicia Vikander (A Royal Affair) and Brenton Thwaites (Maleficent). Altitude Film Sales screened the film produced by Southern Light Films’ Timothy White, to buyers in Cannes.
Main Street Films collared Tim Winton’s The Turning and Well Go USA nabbed Zak Hilditch’s These Final Hours, which screened in Director’s Fortnight.