Press release from TM Publicity
Minnie Loves Junior, an independently-funded Australian short film co-written and directed by brothers Andy Mullins and Matt Mullins, has been selected to play at the Berlin International Film Festival – Berlinale 2011.
Berlinale, alongside Cannes and Venice, sits in the very top echelon of international film festivals.
Minnie Loves Junior is a film that touches people of all ages, all nationalities and all walks of life. Its universal themes of love, devotion and friendship are wrapped up in a very simple story, played out by Minnie (Wyntah Shaw) and Junior (Lartrell Stuart) – two of the most adorable characters we’ve seen on our screens in years.
“We set out to tell a beautiful story,” says co-director Andy Mullins. “A story filled with hope and joy – not typical subjects for short films these days. But we were sure this story would find an audience. We were sure that when audiences around the world met these children and discovered their magic, their innocence, their vitality and their insight, they would fall in love with them, just as we’d done.”
Andy and Matt, with producers Tom Birch and Doug Maskiell, are partners in Sand Hill Road Pictures. Previously the company presented the 2006 feature-length documentary Kanyini, about the life and philosophy of respected Aboriginal elder Uncle Bob Randall. Andy and Matt were assistant directors and Executive Producers on the film, and were closely involved in the script as well as negotiations for national distribution with Hopscotch (2006). Kanyini played at festivals around the world, and won numerous awards including:
Winner 2006 Inside Film Award – Best Documentary
Winner 2006 Inside Film Award – Best Independent Film
Winner 2006 London-Australia Film Award – Best Documentary
Uncle Bob Randall remains a friend and inspiration and was cultural advisor on Minnie Loves Junior.
The lead actors came from the Indigenous community of Port Augusta, South Australia, where the Sand Hill Road Pictures team have been, for several years, involved with community development projects (they first went there in 2005 as part of a group of Melbourne business people who were raising funds to buy a community bus that would transport the community’s elders from their hospice in town back out to community land for ceremonies and teaching with the kids).
The film’s EP and composer, Russell Smith, now lives and works in Melbourne, but was raised in Port Augusta. When casting the film, the production team looked first to Russell’s family, whom they’d known for several years and other friends in the community.
Minnie Loves Junior was shot by award-winning cinematographer Ian Jones ASC, whose credits include Ten Canoes and The Tracker, and was filmed on location in Sorrento, Victoria.
Sand Hill Road Pictures will be in Berlin to present Minnie Loves Junior and to discuss their upcoming projects, which include three feature films in varying stages of development.
“We’re so honoured to be taking this film to Berlin,” says co-director Matt Mullins. “This festival has been a dream of ours for many years. We really love the Australian film industry, and we’re committed to making Australian stories in Australia. But we also appreciate the opportunities a world stage can offer local filmmakers. We’re proud to be sharing this wonderful Australian story with a wider audience.”