Ez Eldin Deng, Dorcas Maphakela, Cathy Rodda and Geskeva Komba.

Cathy Rodda has relaunched her shingle Cathartic Pictures, with a range of dramas and docs in development.

The move comes after four years a production investment manager at Film Victoria – a role Rodda regards as a “sabbatical”.

“I needed a break from the trenches of feature producing, and now I’m back, with deeper knowledge of industry, business, storytelling and formats other than features,” Rodda tells IF of her decision to reboot the company, which previously produced Bullets for the Dead.

“There are opportunities in the chaos of our times, and there are still new stories to tell and underserved audiences to reach.”

Cathartic Pictures will have a focus on female-driven horror and sci-fi, multicultural drama and environmental impact.

On the drama slate is Common Ground (working title), a 8 x 1 hour TV drama that tells the story of African refugees from rural backgrounds who return to the land when they move to regional Victoria.

Rodda is developing with a team of African-Australian creatives, including Ez Eldin Deng, Dorcas Maphakela, Geskeva Komba and Andinet Shiferaw, with Clea Frost as a story developer.

The series has received development funds from the ABC’s Fresh Start Fund and Film Victoria.

With Frost, Rodda is also developing a number of genre projects including Frost’s The Word; Alex von Hofmann’s Monte Miller shortlisted Locked In and Sophie Overett’s All the Little Fishes.

In unscripted, Rodda is also developing a suite of environmental documentaries which explore the connection between trees, humankind and the impact on the planet.

Collectively called A Tree is for Life, the project is part of Documentary Australia Foundation’s Environmental Incubator and will be pitched online as part of the initiative’s New Stories for Climate Action this afternoon.

A Tree is for Life is a suite of documentary films that tell the story of trees in different ways to slightly different audiences,” Rodda says.

“They will be overlap, with shared footage and impact campaign, but they will be financed separately.”

Spanning six continents, the lead feature documentary, also titled A Tree Is For Life, explores “the magnificence and magnanimity of trees” and humans’ relationship with them, physically, historically, spiritually and ecologically.

Why Trees Matter, a 4 x 1 hr television series, delves deeper into the science, 1 hour single Timbre looks at ethical sourcing of timber for musical instruments, and Swamp will immerse audiences in the biodiversity of a mangrove forest in 360° VR.

Creator Norm Wilkinson is co-producing with Rodda, with Simon Christopher (ex Scubazoo) in Malaysia on board. Discussions with like-minded producers in China, Canada and the UK are underway.

Former director of the Environment Film Festival Australia Brooke Daly is the project’s impact producer, hoping to spearhead a campaign that will provide audiences with knowledge and tools to protect forests of the future.

Cathartic Pictures is open for pitches from female writers of horror and sci-fi, and is currently raising philanthropic funds for its tree documentaries.

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