Monkey Puzzle gets theatrical release
[Press Release by Tsuki]
After impressing film festival audiences around the world, Monkey Puzzle will be screening as a limited national release from 23rd October. Opening nights in Sydney, Melbourne and Katoomba will be a special event not to be missed with writer/director Mark Forstmann in attendance for a Q&A session.
This feature film debut from Mark Forstmann is a beautiful and dramatic journey into the unforgiving landscape of the New South Wales’ Blue Mountains, following five friends on the search for one of the world’s rarest trees, the Wollemi Pine, often referred to as a ‘Monkey Puzzle’ tree.
Forstmann is a proactive spokesman for environmental issues, and is one of the original 80 presenters that include Cate Blanchett, for Al Gore’s climate change program, as organised through the Australian Conservation Foundation. Taking these credentials and an active relationship with the bush, Forstmann has created a haunting ‘landscape film’ that explores the effects on the human psyche from this sometimes inhospitable wilderness.
Five friends abseil down into a remote rainforest canyon, but a series of mishaps hamper their adventure. Tensions in the group quickly surface. As the friends become engulfed by the harsh terrain, they come face-to-face with their most personal secrets and fears on a journey which will test their perceptions of friendship, intimacy and the nature of their pasts.
The best of guerrilla filmmaking, Monkey Puzzle was shot on location in the canyons of the Blue Mountains, the first Australian feature film to do so, with cinematographer Justine Kerrigan shooting on Super16mm film and capturing the action with available light only. The cast and crew found themselves abseiling into remote locations to shoot the film, immersing themselves in the heartland of the bush and ‘living’ the experience of their characters.
Featuring some of Australia’s top young actors Monkey Puzzle stars Ryan Johnson (Out Of The Blue, Underbelly, All My Friends are Leaving Brisbane, Secret Life of Us), Ben Geurens (McLeod’s Daughters, Home & Away, Neighbours, The Man from Snowy River), Ella Scott Lynch (Charlotte’s Web, The Falls, All Saints), Billie Rose Prichard (Candy, The Silence) and Socratis Otto (Matrix Reloaded, The Rage in Placid Lake).
The Wollemi Pine is a prehistoric tree recently discovered in the Blue Mountains, which according to scientists, should have died out with the dinosaurs. Its location is shrouded in secrecy as a preservation measure, and has developed a reputation as a type of ‘Holy Grail’. Monkey Puzzle taps into that mystery, exploring the theme “be careful what you search for”.
But finding the tree, or not, is less important than the journey itself and the lessons learnt along the way.
About Mark Forstmann
Mark has written and directed four short films Threaded, Eat Your Greens, Wanted and En Face, which have screened at international festivals (Chicago, Palm Springs, Manhattan Island, British and Flickerfest) and broadcast in Europe and Australia. Threaded was released in cinema with the feature film Quills. Forstmann has also directed documentaries including Freestyle Man for National Geographic and produced Bulls & Bears for ABC TV.
Monkey Puzzle is Forstmann’s first feature film as writer / director. He is currently in development on two feature films Bloke, with writer David Hely, and Desk Rage, with writer Stephen Davis.
About Tamara Popper
As Producer, Tamara Popper has worked on the following short films and documentaries:
1998 Help Me written and directed by Louise Fox (Telluride Film Festival 1999)
2003 Unit #52 written and directed by Tony Krawitz (Directors Fortnight Cannes International Film Festival)
2004 Sydney At War – The Untold Story written and directed by Claude Gonzalez for SBS
2006 A Natural Talent written and directed by Louise Fox (nominated for two AFI’s, winner Jameson Award for Best Australian Short Film, Flickerfest)
Monkey Puzzle is Popper’s first feature film as Producer. She is currently financing her second feature film, Designated Driver, written and to be directed by Stephen Davis, and in development with other features including Desk Rage with Mark Forstmann.