Maziar Lahooti’s ‘Below’ headed for digital and DVD release

Ryan Corr (as Dougie), Below - Photography by David Dare Parker

Ryan Corr in ‘Below’ (Photo credit: David Dare Parker).

Madman Entertainment will release Maziar Lahooti’s debut feature Below on digital platforms and on DVD on July 8, bypassing cinemas.

Ryan Corr and Anthony LaPaglia star in the refugee detention centre action-drama produced by Nick Batzias of Good Thing Productions, Veronica Gleeson and Kate Neylon.

It will be the third Australian title to go straight to home entertainment since COVID-19 disrupted the film industry. Ben Lawrence’s Hearts and Bones went out as a Premium VOD release via Madman on May 6.

Flying Bark Productions’ animated feature 100% Wolf, scripted by Fin Edquist and directed by Alexs Stadermann and produced by Barbara Stephen and Alexia Gates-Foale, is taking the PVOD route from tomorrow. The voice cast is headed by Jai Courtney, Rhys Darby, Jane Lynch, Samara Weaving, Magda Szubanksi and Akmal Saleh.

In the pre-pandemic era, all three would have played in cinemas. Lawrence’s film produced by Matt Reeder was scheduled to open on 40 screens on April 30.

“We’ve had success fast-tracking to PVOD with Hearts and Bones, thanks to the participation of the talent,” Madman MD Paul Wiegard tells IF. “Demand has been strong in its initial phase as a download to own title and we anticipate further strong demand when it transitions to a standard rental release.

Below had a full festival run that started 12 months ago and we can’t delay further.”

Batzias tells IF: “The whole landscape has changed so much we have to be pragmatic. Below is a noisy little film which people may enjoy watching at home as much as they would have in cinemas.”

Zenia Starr in ‘Below'(Photo: David Dare Parker).

Stan has bought the second window to the film co-funded by Screen Australia, the MIFF Premiere Fund and Screenwest’s West Coast Visions, which Lahooti adapted from Ian Wilding’s play of the same name. Rounding out the cast are Phoenix Raei, Alison Whyte, Morgana O’Reilly and Zenia Starr.

The plot follows Corr as directionless dreamer Dougie, who is recruited to work in a detention centre for asylum seekers in a legal no man’s land. He discovers the centre is home to a ‘Fight Club’-style underground operation where detainees are blackmailed into fighting, which awakens his dormant conscience.

LaPaglia is Dougie’s stepfather Terry, the centre’s security manager. Whyte is Cheryl, Dougie’s mum, with Raie as Azad, a detainee and fighter. Zenia is Imogen, a social worker, with O’Reilly as Michelle, a detention centre guard who is Terry’s offsider.

The DOP is Mick McDermott; Alison Telford and Megan Carpenter did the casting. Seville International launched pre-sales at the American Film Market last year and deals are in negotiation.