Bill Bennett’s Defiant, starring Toni Collette, being set up as Aus film
The production team are hoping to get Australian status, and therefore the producer offset for the qualifying Australian expenditure, on director Bill Bennett's Defiant, which has Toni Collette and Dev Patel attached and is scheduled to start filming in India in October.
The thriller is one of a number of high-profile Australian films in planning that are being presented at the Cannes Film Festival next month by sales agents; in this case, The Little Film Company.
All the filming will happen in India with as many Australian heads of department as possible, and all the post in Australia.
Sydney-based Anupam Sharma, who is producing with Bennett, isn’t discussing financing sources in detail but said the budget will be in excess of $6 million and no Indian production partner is in place as yet.
Bennett has written the thriller, which was sparked by an article he saw in an Indian newspaper about five years ago. The story tells of two young Indian lovers wanting to marry against the wishes of their parents who, as a result, have arranged to have them killed. The third key character is a journalist, to be played by Collette.
“Bill did some really hard on-ground research, travelling over six weeks and thousands of kilometres talking to victims, propagators, advocates, people opposing honour killings, lawmakers and breakers, politicians and so on,” Sharma told IF Magazine.
“The script captures such fine and multilayered, vibrant and positive nuances of the Indian culture, apart from exposing the politics behind so called honour killings, that I could swear it was written by an Indian.”
Screen NSW assisted the filmmakers to attend the Strategic Partners co-production market in Halifax and Screen Australia has provided development funds. Bennett’s agent at William Morris Endeavour, Robert Newman, has been helping in the search for partners.
Executive producer Robbie Little is calling the film part Romeo and Juliet and part Bourne Ultimatum.