A Month of Sundays helmer Matthew Saville preps Tampa film Dark Victory

Matthew Saville on the Adelaide set of A Month of Sundays.

Felony director Matthew Saville is getting ready for the release of his new film A Month of Sundays, starring Anthony LaPaglia and John Clarke as Adelaide real-estate agents.

The film will be released April 28 by Madman after festival runs at TIFF and Adelaide last year.

In between promotional duties, Saville is also looking ahead to what's next – even though, as he says, "I can't say what's next, because it's not really up to me".

"I'm developing a few projects but they're just really rough treatments and it's years before they're ready. The one that's furthest down the pipeline is an adaptation of a book by David Marr and Marian Wilkinson called Dark Victory, about the Tampa Crisis in 2001".

Dark Victory: How a Government Lied its Way to Political Triumph is the story of the Howard government's refusal to allow Norwegian frieghter Tampa, with hundreds of mainly Afghan refugees on board, to enter Christmas Island.

The film adaptation has been in development since at least 2013, as reported by IF. 

"It's a big movie", said Saville. "It's not a little thing like A Month of Sundays, so we're going through the process now of getting a draft ready for the marketplace. We'll take it out there and see if we can get some sales". 

Dark Victory will see the director continuing his working relationship with producer Rosemary Blight, of Goalpost Pictures, who described the film to Variety as "The Insider on the high seas".

"We really enjoyed working with one another on Felony", said Saville. "I had a script [for Dark Victory] at the time but I didn't have a producer attached and then I asked her if she'd like to go round the block again. She and her partner Ben Grant read the script and thank goodness they responded to it".

Saville is writing the adaptation himself, while checking in regularly with Marr and Wilkinson. 

"I try to get up to Sydney to meet with them at regular intervals and pick their brains, because there's such a wealth of knowledge on this subject, and [the book was] so thoroughly researched. There was a lot of research that would be half a sentence in a film that was [based on] a twelve-page document that they had dug up". 

"They've been feeding me a lot of ancillary information. I've also gone over to Oslo and met the captain and the first officer of the ship. I've met Will Wilkinson, who owns the shipping company. And I've had a few meetings with a maritime lawyer in Sydney called James Neill who worked with the shipping company".

Given the present government and the recent cuts to Screen Australia, is Saville worried about getting funding?

"I would like to think that the funding bodies don't make political decisions, [that] they make decisions based on the merits of the project regardless of whether there's a left or right slant. I would like to think. Who knows what happens behind closed doors – whether or not they would be pressured in any way to not support it". 

"[Years ago] I applied for some development funding from Screen Australia and a travel grant so I could go to Oslo and meet the crew who were on the Tampa, and also to go to New Zealand and meet some of the survivors. John Howard was in power at that time and they [Screen Australia] supported me, so we'll wait and see. I don't think we live in that country do we?"