Author Hannah Kent, who is adapting her novel ‘The Good People’ into a feature for Aquarius Films. 

An experimental feature length project from writer-director Del Kathryn Barton, two feature adaptations from Aquarius Films, and the feature debut of Goran Stolevski are among the 23 projects announced to have received development funding from Screen Australia today.

The agency has pumped $600,000 into the development of 18 features and five online series, and a talent development placement for Gary Abrahams at Matchbox Pictures under the mentorship of Tony Ayres.

Screen Australia’s senior development manager Nerida Moore noted the strong female representation in the slate, with nine out of the 23 projects funded boasting an all-female team and a female protagonist. She said this was an exciting development that shows “changes in the industry are having a noticeable impact on the types of applications we are receiving”.

“Some of the emerging talent we’re particularly happy to support this round include Tim Marshall and Christina Radburn as they expand their Sundance and SXSW-selected short film, and Goran Stolevski who just took home an award at Sundance,” said Moore.

The first project from Aquarius Films producers Angie Fielder and Polly Staniford is an adaptation of Tara Winkler novel, How (Not) To Start An Orphanage, written by Emma Jensen with Jen Peedom attached to direct. It is based Winkler’s own experience in starting an orphanage in Cambodia only to realise her intentions were misguided.

Fielder and Staniford have also optioned Hannah Kent’s novel The Good People, set in 19th century Ireland about three women who attempt to rescue a child from a superstitious community. Kent is writing the screenplay.

Causeway Films will produce Del Barton’s Puff, which will tell the story of a 12-year old girl left in catatonic shock after accidentally witnessing a woman being raped and combine live action and animation. Sam Jennings will produce with and writer Huna Amweero working alongside Barton.

Donna Chang and Samantha Lang will produce writer Michelle Law’s (Homecoming Queens) first feature project, Laurinda. A coming of age story, it follows Chinese/Vietnamese teenage Lucy Linh Lam who is thrust from her familiar working-class immigrant family background to a prestigious private school when she wins a scholarship.

Producer Jessica Carrera short film and writer-director Stolevski will team on Dollhouse Pictures’ You’ll Love Me, about a 50-something part-time actor and full-time cleaning lady who finally gets a break in love and career.

Among the other projects to receive funding are Goalpost Pictures’ I Am Woman, the story behind the woman who wrote a song which galvanised a generation of women to fight for change; Frankie Sunday, a Nadia Tass and David Parker project about Australia’s first champion axe-woman; and another collaboration between The Dressmaker team, producer Sue Maslin and director Jocelyn Moorhouse, titled The Variations, about the love triangle between 19th century musicians Clara Schumann, Robert Schumann, and Johannes Brahms.

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