Michael Gudinski’s Mushroom group is re-activating its theatrical distribution arm, kicking off with the documentaries Unity and Heaven Adores Us.

Writer-director Shaun Monsoon’s Unity explores the themes of love, tragedy and hope as it examines humanity’s impact on the world.

The cast of 100 narrators includes Ellen DeGeneres, Geoffrey Rush, Jennifer Aniston, Adrian Grenier, Kevin Spacey, Helen Mirren, Amanda Seyfried, Rose Byrne, Minnie Driver, Missy Higgins, Moby, Olivia Wilde, Phil Donahue, Portia de Rossi and Susan Sarandon.

Mushroom Distribution has booked 21 cinemas and the limited season begins on August 12 in a simultaneous worldwide release.

The venues include the Jam Factory, Cinema Nova and Rivoli in Melbourne; Event Cinemas George Street, Palace Cinemas Leichardt and the Chauvel in Sydney; Palace Centro in Brisbane; Palace East End in Adelaide; and Cinema Paradiso in Perth. A New Zealand season will follow.

Mushroom’s Kate Gudinski decided to buy the rights for Australia and New Zealand after viewing footage which blew her away.

That will be followed later this year by Heaven Adores You, Nickolas Rossi’s investigation into the life and music of US indie musician Elliott Smith, who died in Los Angeles in 2003, aged 34, from two stab wounds to the chest.

Mushroom Distribution has also secured Killing Ground, a survival thriller from writer-director Damien Power and producer Joe Weatherstone.

The plot follows a young couple, Ian and Samantha, who go camping in a national park where they find an SUV and a tent, with no sign of the occupants. As night falls and the campers fail to return, things go from bad to worse when the couple discovers a distressed child wandering in the woods.

After Lisa Shaunessy came on board as executive producer, Screen Australia agreed to invest in the project. Casting is underway and shooting is due to start in NSW in October.

“We will focus on unique alternate content and independent Australian films,” Kate says.

Mushroom distributed Dave Grohl’s music documentary Sound City in 2013 and co-distributed Cedar Boys with Hoyts in 2009 and Anvil: The Story of Anvil with Roadshow in 2008.

“We are looking for projects as we want a continuing flow of content, although we will be very selective,” says Mushroom Pictures’ John Molloy.

At the end of this month Molloy will deliver to the Seven Network Molly, which stars Samuel Johnson as Molly Meldrum, chronicling the music, the celebrities, the parties, the international trips, behind-the-scene politics and his partners in crime. The series is directed by Kevin Carlin and written by Liz Doran and Matt Cameron.

Mushroom has retained the distribution rights internationally and for home entertainment in Australia. “We’re getting strong interest,” Molloy says.

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