Oscar-qualifying cinema run for Shelly Lauman’s ‘Birdie’ as Lauman gets a US rep

Maeve Dermody in ‘Birdie.

Writer-director Shelly Lauman’s short film Birdie is screening at a Los Angeles cinema this week in order to qualify for the Academy Awards.

Fox Searchlight booked Birdie and African-American female director A.V. Rockwell’s Feathers for a one-week run starting on September 24 at the Vintage Los Feliz Theatre after acquiring worldwide rights to both titles at the Toronto International Film Festival.

After the festival Lauman spent a week in LA meeting studios, producers and agents, aiming to secure support for her first feature, which she wants to make in Australia. She signed with the Paradigm Talent Agency for US representation. Among the agency’s clients are James Wan, Shane Brennan, Stephen King, James Ivory, Antonio Banderas and Laurence Fishburne.

Funded by the inaugural $20,000 Australian Directors’ Guild/Metro Screen Production Fellowship and produced by Lizzie Cater, Birdie stars Maeve Dermody as a young woman who meets a man (Sam Parsonson) as as she descends the stairs to the underground platform, leading to a subtle and sinister game.

Feathers centers on a dejected student who enrolls at the Edward R. Mill School for Boys where he must overcome memories of a tragic past and hazing by his peers.

“We are thrilled to be a part of the short-format narrative world of film and to foster relationships with these fresh and distinctive voices in filmmaking,” said Fox Searchlight co-chairs Nancy Utley and Stephen Gilula.

Screening narrative and live-action short features in cinemas is a new venture for the Fox label.

Cater had told IF Birdie will be screened on Fox’s online platforms as well as continuing to roll out at festivals in consultation with the studio; a European festival premiere will be the next step.

Executive-produced by Jessica Mitchell and Bethany Bruce, the psychological thriller had its world premiere at MIFF. Ann Howard was the DOP, working with costume designer Maria Pattison, sound designer Weronika Razna and editor Danielle Boesenberg.