Cinema Nova takes a new path with Luke Sparke’s ‘Occupation’

10 July, 2018 by Don Groves

‘Occupation.’

The traditional practice of multiple session times does not suit some Australian films, according to Cinema Nova general manager Kristian Connelly.

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He’s convinced these films would have the benefit of a longer run in cinemas if they played on fewer sessions.

A case in point is Luke Sparke’s Occupation, which launches on July 12 via Pinnacle Films. The sci-fi thriller which stars Temuera Morrison, Jacqueline McKenzie, Dan Ewing, Bruce Spence, Felix Williamson, Stephany Jacobsen and Trystan Go will screen daily at 7 pm and 9 pm at Cinema Nova.

Connelly is encouraged by the responses to advance screenings and the sales to the US and vitually every international market negotiated by Clay Epstein’s Film Mode Entertainment.

“Pre-release screenings with the cast and crew in attendance were well attended and both the filmmakers and their distribution partners have been open-minded to our suggestions on how to reach audiences,” he tells IF.

“Sessions are limited but audience-accessible for opening week, allowing for well attended shows without rigidly demanding a session-time policy that might accompany a standard blockbuster release.

“The campaign behind the film is greater than what we usually see for this size of release. We anticipate holding the film over for later weeks.

“There are few precedents for this approach to theatrical release so we aren’t sure what to expect but we are strong supporters of Australian features and felt this ambitious approach needed backing.”

Connelly has used that strategy several times including for Christopher Kay’s comedy Just Between Us and Steven Spiel’s horror movie Living Space.

Set in a small Australian country town after an alien invasion has engulfed the planet, Occupation follows a small group of survivors who form an army to fight back against vastly superior enemy forces.

Morrison plays a father who is desperate to protect his wife and kids. Ewing is a former footballer who has fallen on hard times and is engaged to Jacobsen’s character, with Go as her brother. McKenzie plays an Army Colonel.

Sparke tells IF: “We’re starting out with a soft release around the country to see if Aussie audiences back it. We ramped up our grass roots campaign on Sunday with TV ads, billboards, street posters, a great competition on the Today show and across social media to put bums out seats. Session times have been growing due to interest and we obviously have eyes on expanding in week 2 and expanding the marketing campaign.”

The film opens across AMC cinemas in the US on July 20 via Saban Films. Sparke and producers Carly Imrie and Carmel Imrie will start shooting the sequel in late August.

The director promises the follow-up will be bigger and darker and tackle a lot of different themes including: What happens after the fight back and what does that world look like?

Cinema Nova is also launching Claudia Sangiorgi Dalimore and Michelle Grace Hunder’s feature documentary Her Sound Her Story this week as a Nova exclusive.

The film celebrates the achievements of more than 40 women across five decades and chronicles how the iniquities of the industry impacted them. There will be a Q&A on opening night with Missy Higgins and Dallas Frasca.

The Nova took a similar approach with two other exclusives, Judy Rymer’s Border Politics, which followed human rights barrister Julian Burnside as he investigated anti-terrorism legislation around the world, and Axel Grigor’s Jill Bilcock: Dancing the Invisible, which profiled the acclaimed film editor.

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