Michael Rowe’s Early Winter, Simon Stone’s The Daughter and Bentley Dean and Martin Butler’s Tanna will be launched internationally at the 72nd Venice International Film Festival in September.

A Canadian/Australian co-production starring Paul Doucet and Suzanne Clément, Early Winter (formerly Rest Home) will have its world premiere in the Venice Days sidebar.

The first English-language film from Mexican-based writer-director Rowe (Leap Year; The Well), the Montreal-shot psychological drama follows a janitor in a retirement home whose life spirals out of control when he catches his wife with a lover, pushing him to the brink of insanity.

Pyramide International is handling international sales and releasing in France, Rialto will distribute in Australia/New Zealand and Mongrel Media/Film Option in Canada.

“Pyramide will be selling in Venice and then at Toronto,” Freshwater Pictures’ Trish Lake, who produced with Serge Noël’s Possibles Média, tells IF. “There are several other major international festivals who have asked us and we are weighing up those invitations right now.”

There will be a special work-in-progress screening of Early Winter on August 12 at the Melbourne International Film Festival. MIFF's Premiere Fund run by Mark Woods is an investor.

Lake says, "MIFF and Mark Woods in particular and Screen Queensland's  creative development team have played a strong role in supporting the film from the get go. Mark and (MIFF chair) Claire Dobbin met with me in Berlin after the initial presentation of the project at Cinemart in Rotterdam in February 2013.

"They invited us to apply for the MIFF Premiere Fund and were instrumental in our financing package along with SQ. Michael is a Victorian-born and raised director who studied in Melbourne.

"So when we were invited to a world premiere and to compete in Venice Days MIFF very kindly offered to host a work-in-progress screening and forewent the world premiere so we could compete at Venice Days."

Based on Henrik Ibsen’s The Wild Duck, The Daughter will screen on the closing night of Venice Days. The saga of a long-buried family secret that re-emerges when a man returns home, it stars Geoffrey Rush, Ewen Leslie, Paul Schneider Miranda Otto, Sam Neill and newcomer Odessa Young.

Produced by Jan Chapman and Nicole O’Donohue, the drama which had its world premiere at the Sydney Film Festival will open here next March via Roadshow.

Based on a true story and filmed on Tanna island near Vanuatu with a non-professional cast, Tanna (formerly Taboo) will screen in competition in Venice Critics’ Week.

The plot follows Wawa, a young girl from one of the last traditional tribes who falls in love with her chief’s grandson, Dain. When an inter-tribal war escalates, Wawa is unknowingly betrothed as part of a peace deal. The young lovers run away, but are pursued by enemy warriors intent on killing them.

Dean told IF the film is based on events in 1985 when two lovers who were forbidden to marry took their own lives. That was a turning point for the tribal elders, who thereafter agreed to permit love marriages. The cast is headed by Marie Wawa, Mungau Dain, Marceline Rofit, Albi Nangia and Chief Charlie Kahla.

Dean and Butler said: “The tribe from Vanuatu who acted in Tanna had never seen a feature film before and we’d never made one. Walking the red carpet together for the world premiere will be enormously exciting.”

It’s the duo’s s first narrative feature after First Footprints, a docu series on Australia’s original pioneers 50,000 years before Captain Cook, and Contact, an ABC docu which looked at some of the last Aborigines to meet the modern world – 20 desert-dwelling Martu people.

Contact Films is handling theatrical distribution in association with Bonsai Films and Umbrella Entertainment will release on DVD and VOD.

The festival runs September 2-12. The official competition line-up will be unveiled on Wednesday.


Genre Drama
Production Company Jan Chapman Films and Wildflower Films
Writer/Director Simon Stone
Producers Jan Chapman, Nicole O’Donohue
Cast Geoffrey Rush, Ewen Leslie, Paul Schneider, Miranda Otto, Anna Torv with Odessa Young and Sam Neill
Sales Mongrel International
Australian Distribution Roadshow Films
Synopsis In the last days of a dying logging town Christian returns to his family home for his father Henry’s wedding to the much younger Anna. While home, Christian reconnects with his childhood friend Oliver, who has stayed in town working at Henry’s timber mill and is now out of a job. As Christian gets to know Oliver’s wife Charlotte, daughter Hedvig and father Walter, he discovers a secret that could tear Oliver’s family apart. As he tries to right the wrongs of the past, his actions threaten to shatter the lives of those he left behind years before.


Genre Drama
Production Company Possibles Media  and Freshwater Pictures
Writer/Director Michael Rowe
Producers Serge Noël, Trish Lake
Co-producer Dan Lake
Executive Producer Richard Cohen (AUS)
Cast Suzanne Clément, Paul Doucet
Sales Pyramide International
Australian Distribution Rialto
Co-production Canada, Australia
Synopsis David works solitary shiftwork as a janitor in a retirement home. He dotes on his children and plies his wife with the latest gadgets. But when he suspects she’s having an affair, dark secrets from his past threaten to overwhelm him. From 2010 Cannes Caméra d’Or–winning director, Michael Rowe, and featuring acclaimed Canadian actor, Paul Doucet, and the 2012 Cannes Best Actress in Un Certain Regard, Suzanne Clément.


Genre Drama
Directors Bentley Dean, Martin Butler
Writers Bentley Dean, Martin Butler, John Collee and the Yakel community
Producers Martin Butler, Bentley Dean, Carolyn Johnson
Cast Marie Wawa, Mungau Dain, Marceline Rofit, Albi Nangia, Chief Charlie Kahla.
Sales Visit Films
DVD/SVOD Distribution Umbrella Entertainment
Theatrical Distribution Contact Films in collaboration with Bonsai Films
Synopsis In one of the last traditional tribes in the South Pacific, a young girl, Wawa, falls in love with her chief’s grandson, Dain. When an inter-tribal war escalates, Wawa is unknowingly betrothed as part of a peace deal. The young lovers run away, but are pursued by enemy warriors intent on killing them. They must choose between their hearts and the future of the tribe, while the villagers must wrestle with preserving their traditional culture and adapting it to the increasing outside demands for individual freedom. Based on a true story and performed by the people of Yakel.


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