While some distributors are cutting back, Umbrella Entertainment plans to release approximately 18 titles in cinemas this year, up from 14 in 2019.
The distributor has high hopes for its Australian acquisitions which run the gamut of genres from drama, horror and Western to sci-fi.
“We’re passionate about overcoming the cultural cringe that Australian audiences still have a tendency to display and are dedicated to fostering new Australian talent,” Umbrella head of acquisitions Ari Harrison tells IF.
“As a small, close-knit team, we aim to concentrate our efforts on films that we love and can support from the ground up. We want to work hand-in-hand with the filmmakers with the goal of getting their film ‘out there’ so that it finds its audience.
“Essentially we aim to ensure that the films we acquire have the capacity for national theatrical success in Australia and New Zealand, with potential for continued growth via their ancillary platforms. On a personal level, it’s also vital that we feel passionate about the films we distribute.
“Together with [MD] Jeff Harrison, our ultimate goal is to support and distribute Australian films theatrically.”
Ari Harrison rates 2019 overall as a successful year for the distributor, albeit with several disappointing results. Its top five grosses were Nick Conidi and Tony Ferrieri’s romantic drama Promised, Joe Penna’s thriller Arctic, Ludovic Bernard’s comedy-drama In Your Hands, Louise Alston’s young adult drama Back of the Net and Yi’nan Diao’s crime drama Wild Goose Lake.
Encouraged by the Melbourne International Film Festival reviews and reactions, Umbrella will launch Paul Ireland’s Measure for Measure on May 14, a medium-wide release incorporating a mix of arthouse and multiplex screens.
Hugo Weaving, Harrison Gilbertson, Megan Hajjar, Fayssal Bazzi and Daniel Henshall head the cast of the re-imagining of Shakespeare’s play set in Melbourne’s public housing, co-written by Ireland and the late Damian Hill.
As IF reported Natalie Erika James’ debut feature Relic received rapturous reviews as a wholly original approach to the haunted house genre after the world premiere in the Midnight section of the Sundance Film Festival.
The psychological horror movie co-written by the director and Christian White, which stars Emily Mortimer, Robyn Nevin and Bella Heathcote, will get a wide release, as yet undated.
Deb Mailman in ‘2067.’
Seth Larney’s 2067 is set in a deforested and oxygen-deprived world – the result of climate change – which forces humanity to look to the future for salvation.
Harrison describes the movie featuring Kodi Smit-McPhee, Ryan Kwanten, Deborah Mailman, Leeanna Walsman and Damian Walshe-Howling as an exciting combination of time-travel and climate-fiction and will appeal to fans of such films as the Spierig brothers’ Predestination and Terry Gilliam’s 12 Monkeys.
The feature debut of writer/director Roderick MacKay, The Furnace chronicles the previously untold story of an Afghan cameleeer during Australia’s Gold Rush. Harrison: “It’s a compelling, fugitive-style Western starring David Wenham, Ahmed Malek, Osamah Sami, Jay Ryan and Trevor Jamieson.”
Written and directed by Tyson Wade Johnston and starring Levi Miller, Jason Isaacs and Jake Ryan, Streamline follows a 15 year-old swimming prodigy who self-destructs after his father is released from jail.
The slate also includes:
Lorcan Finnegan’s sci-fi mystery Vivarium, which stars Jesse Eisenberg and Imogen Poots as a couple who find themselves trapped in a mysterious labyrinth-like neighbourhood of identical houses.
Quentin Dupieux’s Deerskin (Le Daim), which follows Academy Award winner Jean Dujardin (The Artist) as a man whose obsession with his designer jacket causes him to blow his life savings and turn to crime.
Co-directed by P. David Ebersole and Todd Hughes, feature documentary House of Cardin looks at the man behind the larger than life fashion label Pierre Cardin.
Ablaze, a feature doc from directors Tiriki Onus and Alec Morgan which tells the story of Bill Onus, a Yorta Yorta/Wiradjuri man from Victoria who revived his people’s culture in the 1940s and ignited a civil rights movement that would change the course of history.
Synchronic, a thriller from The Endless creators Justin Benson and Aaron Moorhead, which stars Anthony Mackie and Jamie Dornan as New Orleans paramedics who encounter a series of horrific deaths linked to designer drug.