Filmmakers Philippe Mora and Trevor Graham are working on a feature documentary on the Holocaust, which they believe is timely amid the rising tide of anti-Semitism in Europe.
Monsieur Mayonnaise will chronicle the making of Mora’s graphic comic book of the same name, an account of how his Jewish family survived the Holocaust.
Screen Australia’s Signature Fund is contributing $195,000 and the producers are working with the Documentary Australia Foundation to raise $50,000 from philanthropic donations from organisations and individuals.
Dr Graham, who is directing and co-producing with Ned Lander and Lisa Wang, hopes to start shooting in August in Melbourne, Los Angles and Europe with Jenni Meaney as the DoP.
“We will go on the road with Philippe as he explores his family's extraordinary story of survival during the Third Reich, filming in Berlin, Leipzig, Paris, Hollywood, Auschwitz and Melbourne – witnessing the creation of his comic art,” Graham tells IF.
“Philippe's urgency to reveal this epic story is driven by powerful forces: his sources are disappearing fast, his father is no longer with us and his mother Mirka is nearly ninety.
“Europe's Foreign Ministers recently stated that current levels of anti-Semitism are the worst in Europe since World War 2. So Philippe's comic book history, despite appearances, is deadly serious.
“Ultimately Monsieur Mayonnaise explores the extremes of human experience, intergenerational memory, fear, courage and the role of creativity and humour, in representing and engaging with horror and terror."
The multi-platform project will encompass a theatrical release, film festivals, TV exposure and a series of 20 comic webisodes on YouTube.
The producers have signed a deal with Antidote Films for an event-style Australian national theatrical release and hope to secure funding from the Melbourne International Film Festival’s Premiere Fund, which would mean a world premiere at MIFF in 2016.
Mora is planning the publication of his comic book and a Melbourne exhibition to coincide with the premiere.
Cologne-based co-producer partner Carl-Ludwig Rettinger is negotiating a sale for the feature version to Germany’s Arte channel.
The producers have a letter of interest from the Berlin Film Festival, based on the trailer which was shot last year in in West Hollywood with Mora and in Melbourne with his mother.