Screen Australia will invest almost $20 million across 12 screen projects including futuristic Western The Rover, starring Robert Pattinson and Guy Pearce.

The film is the latest collaboration between producer Liz Watts and writer-director David Michôd, following the success of their crime-thriller Animal Kingdom in 2010. FilmNation Entertainment acquired the majority of worldwide rights to The Rover at the Cannes Film Festival earlier this year while Village Roadshow will distribute the film in Australia.

Screen Australia has also backed three other feature films: drama Felony, written by Joel Edgerton and directed by Matthew Saville (Noise); Healing, a redemptive prison drama starring Don Hany (East West 101) and Hugo Weaving; and Aim High in Creation, a hybrid documentary-drama about the late Kim Jong-il from writer/director Anna Broinowski (Forbidden Lie$).

Screen Australia chief executive Ruth Harley said the four Australian features have huge potential. "The Rover is a powerful, well-crafted script from a talented team with an impressive cast," she said in a statement. "Anna Broinowski’s Aim High in Creation is a distinctive, ambitious film with a humorous and entertaining story. Felony has international breakout potential and Healing promises to be a highly emotional and moving story on screen.”

Screen Australia said the near-$20 million investment, which is also directed across adult television drama and children’s television series, will trigger about $100 million in production.

Adult television drama investments include FOXTEL's re-imagining of the popular Prisoner series, titled Wentworth, and Nine Network's four-part mini-series Gallipoli. Better Man is a four-part true-crime drama for SBS about the devastating consequences of Van Nguyen’s attempt to traffic heroin from Cambodia to Australia while Parer’s War is an ABC telemovie biopic about World War II frontline cameraman Damien Parer. Screen Australia has also invested in the second series of ABC’s Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries.

In the children’s television sector, Screen Australia has invested in Network Ten adventure series Sam Fox: Extreme Adventures, which is based on the action-adventure books by Justin D’Ath; ABC drama series The Lost Boys; and ABC comedy-drama series The Worst Year of My Life – Again!.

“It’s great to support such a substantial slate of distinctive and compelling adult drama and children’s programs, delivering unique Australian storytelling at its best," Harley said.

"Across both adult and children’s television, Screen Australia’s investment commitment will produce 66 hours of television and generate budgets of $73.6 million. Screen Australia is committed to investing in a production slate that encourages new talent, develops successful screen practitioners and promotes ongoing achievement."

Contact this reporter at or on Twitter at @bcswift.


Unicorn Films
Producer: Lizzette Atkins
Writer/Director: Anna Broinowski
International Sales: High Point Media Group
Australian Distributor: Antidote Films
Synopsis: A revolutionary film about the cinematic genius of Kim Jong-il with a groundbreaking experiment at its heart: the making of a film-within-a-film, based on the rules of his manifesto The Cinema and Directing. No Western filmmaker has ever done this before – for good reason!

Goalpost Pictures Australia and Blue Tongue Films
Producers: Rosemary Blight, Joel Edgerton
Writer: Joel Edgerton
Director: Matthew Saville
International Sales: The Solution
Australian Distributor: Roadshow Films
Synopsis: Three male detectives become embroiled in a tense struggle after a tragic accident which leaves a small child in a coma. One is guilty; one will try to cover it, and the other attempt to expose it. The crime sends the three men on a thrilling ride where they discover that the road to forgiveness is longer and more complex than that of a simple social justice.

Pointblank Pictures Pty Ltd
Producers: Craig Monahan, Tait Brady
Writers: Craig Monahan, Alison Nisselle
Director: Craig Monahan
International Sales: Lightning/Richard Guardian
Australian Distributor: Pinnacle
Synopsis: Healing is a moving story of redemption, the discovery of hope and its healing of the spirit – in the most unlikely place, for the most unique men, through the most unusual catalyst.

Porchlight Films Pty Ltd in association with Lava Bear Films LLC
Producers: Liz Watts, David Linde, David Michôd
Writer/Director: David Michôd
International Sales: FilmNation
Australian Distributor: Village Roadshow
Synopsis: The Australian desert in a dangerous and damaged near future. Eric has left everything, everyone and every semblance of human kindness behind him. And then he has his last possession stolen by a gang of dangerous criminals. Eric sets off on a ruthless mission to track them down, forced along the way to enlist the help of Rey, the naïve and injured junior member of the gang, who was left behind in the bloody chaos of the gang’s most recent robbery.


FremantleMedia Australia in association with Bravado Productions
Producer: Stephen Corvini
Executive Producer: Jason Stephens
Writer/Director: Khoa Do
Broadcaster: SBS
International Sales: SBS International
Synopsis: Exactly how much risk would you take to save your brother? For Van Nguyen the answer was whatever it takes, and the devastating consequence of his attempt to traffic heroin from Cambodia to Australia via a change of planes in Singapore was that the 396 grams of drugs that he was discovered carrying was enough to incur the death penalty – 26 times over.

Southern Star Entertainment Pty Ltd
Producers: John Edwards, Imogen Banks, Robert Connolly
Writer: Christopher Lee (based on the book by Les Carlyon)
Director: TBC
Broadcaster: Nine Network
International Sales: Endemol Worldwide
Synopsis: The greatest invasion in the history of warfare was to become a diabolical failure – an eight-month siege where the bravery of Anzac troops was squandered. But in doing so a legend, and a nation, were born.

Every Cloud Productions
Producers: Fiona Eagger, Deb Cox
Head Writers: Deb Cox, John Banas, Kristen Dunphy
Director: Tony Tilse
Broadcaster: ABC
International Sales: All3Media International
Domestic Sales: ABC Commercial
Synopsis: Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries series 2 is a 13 x 1-hour murder mystery series based on the novels of Australian author Kerry Greenwood.

Pericles Film Productions Pty Ltd
Producer: Andrew Wiseman
Writer: Alison Nisselle
Director: Matthew Saville
Broadcaster: ABC
Domestic Sales: Transmission
Synopsis: Parer’s War is the story of World War II frontline cameraman Damien Parer and his desperate efforts to reveal the savage truth of battle and the brutal truth of the heart.

FremantleMedia Australia Pty Ltd
Executive Producer: Jo Porter
Producer: Amanda Crittenden
Script Producer: Lara Radulovich
Director: Kevin Carlin
International Sales: FremantleMedia
Broadcaster: FOXTEL
Synopsis: We all know Bea Smith ruled Wentworth Detention Centre. She was gutsy and fearless. But who was Bea Smith before prison? How did a wife and mother from the suburbs become a top dog without rival? Where did the confidence and fortitude come from that enabled her to get there, and what injustices and misadventures fuelled her determination to do it? Wentworth is a dynamic, often confronting, drama series that begins with Bea’s early days in prison. Set in the present day, it’s a modern re-imagination of Prisoner.


Matchbox Productions Pty Ltd
Producers: Michael McMahon, Tony Ayres
Writers: Craig Irvin, Rhys Graham, Roger Monk, Elise McCredie, Polly Staniford, Shanti Gudgeon
Directors: Peter Carstairs, Robert Connolly
Broadcaster: ABC
International Sales: NBCUniversal
Domestic Sales: ACTF
Synopsis: Four boys get lost in the forest, and discover, when they return home, that they have returned to an alternate world identical to theirs except for one startling difference – they were never born.

SLR Productions Pty Ltd
Producer/Executive Producer: Suzanne Ryan
Writer: Keith Thompson
Broadcaster: Network Ten
International Sales: ZDFE
Synopsis: Sam Fox: Extreme Adventures is an action-packed adventure series about teenage ‘danger magnet’ Sam Fox as he braves the wilds from open ocean to deepest jungle, coming face to face with killer sharks, man-eating leopards, raging tornadoes, erupting volcanoes, deadly scorpions, giant anacondas and much, much more.

Worst Year Productions Pty Ltd
Producers: Ross Allsop, Bernadette O’Mahony
Writers: Mark Brotherhood, Brendan Luno, Sam Carroll (and others)
Directors: Pino Amenta (and others)
Broadcasters: ABC, CBBC (UK)
International Sales: ACTF
Synopsis: When Alex King goes to bed on the eve of his 15th birthday, he’s relieved that the last disastrous year is finally over. But when he wakes up, time has reset itself and he’s going to have to relive the worst year of his life all over again.

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