Two Aussie features in Cannes

24 April, 2009 by IF

By Simon de Bruyn

Warwick Thornton’s acclaimed feature Samson and Delilah will screen in Official Selection at the 2009 Cannes Film Festival, along with Jane Campion’s Bright Star, it was confirmed last night.


Samson and Delilah will screen in Un Certain Regard – a category reserved for films that express a personal vision, with an emphasis on special cultural expression and cinematic innovation. This is the same category which awarded Rolf de Heer’s Ten Canoes the special jury prize in 2006.

The film’s selection was first reported by INSIDEFILM magazine in its April issue.

Bright Star, the new film from Jane Campion starring Abbie Cornish and Ben Whishaw, has been selected for the Official Competition and is the first Australian film to be included in the Official Competition since since Baz Luhrmann’s Moulin Rouge opened the festival in 2001.

The Australia/United Kingdom co-production is based on the three-year romance between 19th century poet John Keats and Fanny Brawne. It is the ninth film directed by Campion to screen at the festival and her fourth feature selected. The Cannes screening will be Bright Star’s world premiere.

Samson and Delilah director Warwick Thornton is one of only three first-time feature filmmakers selected in official competition.

His film, which tells the story of two indigenous teenagers who leave their bush community for Alice Springs, has been building momentum since it screened at the Adelaide Film Festival in February. In Adelaide it received a five minute standing ovation from its world premiere audience, as well as the 2009 Audience Prize.

Last Friday evening, Samson and Delilah had its hometown premiere at the Alice Springs Telegraph Station, where over 2,500 people from Alice Springs and the surrounding communities attended. On May 7, it will be the opening night film of the Message Sticks Indigenous Film Festival at the Sydney Opera House.

The 62nd Cannes International Film Festival runs from 13-24 May 2009. In a tounching tribute, Cannes has dedicated the Official Selection to Fortissimo Films founder Wouter Barendrecht, who passed away earlier this month.