Aussie WW1 drama plans Cannes premiere

William Kelly’s War, a drama set during WW1, will premiere in Cannes in May and be released in Australian cinemas in September.

Based on a true story, it’s the saga of two brothers and their cousin who leave their outback home to go to war and come back to find their family is under siege from a gang of bushrangers.

The writer-director is Geoff Davis, whose only previous experience as a feature director was a micro-budgeted 2003 film, Laughing Stock, a comedy about a middle-aged rock band whose life turns sour, which featured Bud Tingwell.

Davis works for a software company and has spent years in multi-media so he was familiar with digital effects and the post production process.

The producer, Phil Avalon, is in talks with sales agents to represent the film when it premieres at the Cannes market.

Davis’ sons Josh and Mat play the brothers, Billy and Jack Kelly, Lachlan Hulme is their cousin Paddy and Tony Bonner is their father. Much of the film was shot in the back paddock of Davis’ farm near Leongatha in country Victoria. The working title was The Stolen.

Davis raised enough money, including some from friends, to shoot 65 minutes of footage using a RED camera and digital effects to simulate explosions and gun fire. Avalon raised additional funds to shoot the climactic scenes dealing with the homecoming.

The drama was inspired by Davis’ favourite film in his youth, John Ford’s The Searchers, which he embellished into a bedtime story he told his sons when they were kids.

Explaining the decision to use his sons, Davis said, “They are very physical roles. We could not afford stand-ins. But Josh and Mat have done martial arts. I didn’t doubt they could do the acting. They got better as we went along. I’m really proud of the movie."

It will be released in Australia by IFM/Filmways.

  1. I had to read the headline and 5 paragraphs into the story to find out you mean the Cannes market. “Premiering in Cannes” usually means the festival not the booked and paid for screenings of the market. It’s poor form to mislead readers like this: see also “Oz thriller premies in Berlin” from a few weeks ago. This sort of churnalism feeds only the ego of the filmmakers involved and makes the journalist and filmmakers look like rank amatuers. Please stop.

  2. Another sour grapes response from a fellow we all know well. This chap is known to most of us in the industry as Mr. Negative.
    I’m a writer, work hard, and am delighted to read that a writer/director has had his film screened in Cannes Berlin or where ever.
    Why do you delight in commenting negatively on subject matter you really don’t know much about?
    A premiere screening is a premiere screening. Where’s the ‘poor form?”
    I ask – Come on… Why not put your name up there? That way those that don’t know who you are can see who they are talking to? And if your comment is real, not just sour grapes, you will get an honest open response from readers.

  3. My wife and I just viewed William Kelly’s war on Amazon Prime here in America and loved it. Aussie films provide great characters and more depth than the light weight fare here in the U.S. What a great bittersweet story that is uplifting at the same time.

    1. We just watched this film today in the US on a hot miserable day, with smoke in the air, and hornets swarming about, so we left the fields and are hiding in the house. I’d give it 4.5 stars out of five. And I hate war flicks. Ironically earluer this day we were having to check on our own son , and his PTSD.
      The director/writer and his sons did an excellent job, and should be proud of what they did here. Hope they made some more films.

  4. Congratulations on a fine movie and even more so because of the limited funds available to film it. Josh Davis in particular was a very believable character and a natural. I enjoyed this film and recommend it to others.

  5. Great movie and inspiring. Were the police that incompetent?
    Billy went through at war without having to come home to this.
    loved it. I have seen it twice now and will watch it again. A great low key war film, like the brilliant Odd Angry Shot and no bull shit like the yank war films. Ihave 5 boys in the army and all have seen combat.

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