Australian filmmakers jet off as Rotterdam announces its selection

Five Australian films have been selected to screen at the 37th Rotterdam International Film Festival later this month.

The teams responsible for Men’s Group, Unfinished Sky, Shmetamorphosis, Spike Up and Wasting Away will join the strong delegation of Australians participating in the co-production market Cinemart and the AFC-sponsored Rotterdam Lab this year.

The feature film Men’s Group, directed by Michael Joy and produced by John L Simpson has been selected to screen in the Time and Tide section of the festival. The Rotterdam screening will mark the film’s world premiere. John L Simpson recently won the Digispaa Spaartan Award for his work on the film.

Continuing its success on the international festival circuit, the feature film Unfinished Sky will have its European premiere in the Time and Tide section of the Rotterdam program. The film is written and directed by Peter Duncan and produced by Cathy Overett and Anton Smit, with Mark Overett, Hanneke Niens and San Fu Maltha attached as executive producers. Unfinished Sky previously screened at Pusan International Film Festival and Toronto International Film Festival.

Three shorts, Shmetamorphosis, Spike Up and Wasting Away have been selected to screen in the Shorts: As Long As It Takes program of Rotterdam. Shmetamorphosis, written, directed and produced by Jack Feldstein, will screen as part of the New Arrivals section of the program. Spike Up, written and directed by Anthony Maras and produced by Kent Smith and Anthony Maras, will have its international premiere as part of Short Stories 1: I Fought the Law. Wasting Away, written and directed by Tim Dean and produced by Nick Heydon, will have its world premiere in the It’s All About Economy section of the program.

The five films join the two previously announced Australian projects participating in Cinemart – Venice, written and directed by Miro Bilbrough, and Errors of the Human Body, written and directed by Eron Sheean.
Coinciding with Cinemart is the Rotterdam Lab, a four-day workshop for emerging producers to build on their international network. This is the seventh year that the AFC’s Marketing Branch has partnered with the Rotterdam Lab, and the third year the AFC’s Indigenous Branch has also sponsored the workshop. The seven producers selected to participate at the 2008 Rotterdam Lab are Jack Feldstein, Nicole O’Donohue, Selin Yaman, Pauline Clague, Anusha Duray, Penny Smallacombe and Ryan Griffen. Duray, Smallacombe and Griffen are travelling to Rotterdam as part of the AFC’s Indigenous Producers Initiative, which is aimed at supporting new and emerging Indigenous producers.

The International Film Festival Rotterdam runs 23 January – 3 February 2008. Cinemart and Rotterdam Lab run 27 – 31 January 2008.


Men’s Group
(104 min)
Production company: Titan View
Producer: John L Simpson
Director: Michael Joy
Story: John L Simpson and Michael Joy
International sales: Titan View
Australian distributor: Titan View
Cast: Grant Dodwell, Paul Gleeson, Steve Le Marquand, Don Reid, Steve Rodgers, Paul Tassone, William Zappa
Synopsis: Paul runs a men’s group from his home in the suburbs. Freddy, Cecil, Lucas, Moses and Alex are complete strangers when they begin their journey together; they have very little in common with each other and would never normally have cause to speak, let alone share their innermost fears and desires. They soon discover that they do have something in common: being male. As trust grows between them they gradually begin to share as they learn to listen to each other. They discover that they are not quite so alone in their fears as they had presumed.
Unfinished Sky
(90 min)
Production company: New Holland Productions Pty
Exec Producer: Mark Overett, Hanneke Niens, San Fu Maltha
Producer: Cathy Overett, Anton Smit
Director: Peter Duncan
Writer: Peter Duncan
International sales: Fortissimo Film Sales
Australian distributor: Palace Films
Produced and developed with the assistance of the Film Finance Corporation, the Pacific Film and Television Commission, Netherlands Film Fund, CoBO Fund and Vara
CAST: William McInnes, Monic Hendrickx
Synopsis: John Woldring wakes one morning to find a young woman stumbling semi-consciously towards his farmhouse. She is dark (Middle Eastern perhaps) and has no English. There is great beauty hidden beneath the blood and bruises. She has obviously run from something truly terrible. But John Woldring doesn’t call the police. He will handle this his own way. Has she landed in a sanctuary or another nightmare?


(13 min)
Production company: Jack Feldstein Films
Director: Jack Feldstein
Writer: Jack Feldstein
Producer: Jack Feldstein
Sales: Jack Feldstein
Cast: Jack Feldstein
Synopsis: A funny re-animated neon film, Shmetamorphosis has the narrative elements of a Spalding Gray monologue and the visual style of Andy Warhol pop art. When a hysterical bug bursts into Super-Therapist Berthold Krasenstein’s office, Krasenstein is well aware of the Kafkaesque challenges ahead

Spike Up
(29 mins)
Production company: AntHouse Films, Kojo Pictures
Director: Anthony Maras
Writer: Anthony Maras
Producer: Kent Smith, Anthony Maras
Sales: AntHouse Films
Cast: Roy Billing, Marcus Graham, Lisa Flanagan
Synopsis: Steve Barker is a veteran police officer struggling to find any self respect or connection with his young family. Steve experiences a crisis of conscience and warps his previously straight-edged moral code completely out of shape. In the tradition of Serpico and Blue Murder, Spike Up offers a sobering meditation on police ethics and responsibility; and examines the power of institutional evil to permeate the individual.

Wasting Away
(5 min 36 sec)
Production company: Heydon Films
Director: Tim Dean
Writer: Tim Dean
Producer: Nick Heydon
Cast: Alison Bell
Synopsis: The more disposable we make society, the more disposable we become.

[release from Avviso PR for the AFC]

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