Hawanatu Bangura, Vonne Patiag and Aanisa Vylet at the 2016 I.C.E. Screen Cultures workshop program.

Hawanatu Bangura, Vonne Patiag and Aanisa Vylet at the 2016 I.C.E. Screen Cultures workshop program.

An adaptation of Kenneth Cook’s novel Fear is the Rider, to be by directed Kriv Stenders, and writer Osamah Sami’s Ali’s Wedding-follow up, When The Birds Aren’t Free To Be Buried, are among 15 features to have recently received development funding via Screen Australia.

The agency today announced $700,000 worth of funding via its Story, Talent and Sector Development programs. As well as the 15 features it has also backed three online series, attachments and diversity initiatives.

“In this round we are particularly pleased to see projects led by emerging talent such as Matt Devine, Sophie Miller, Renee Webster and Tasmanian duo Franz Docherty and Belinda Bradley,” said Screen Australia senior development manager Nerida Moore.

“Looking ahead, we want to see more projects that engage in the low-budget space in recognition of the opportunities they represent for career development. We also want projects and teams that represent the diversity and uniqueness of the Australian experience, and more online projects. Above all, we are looking for authentic voices that will engage with audiences – whatever the genre.”

Writers Mithila Gupta and Martine Delaney will be supported to undergo attachments at Blackfella Films and Roar Films respectively; and producer Brendan Fletcher has been funded to create a business development plan with Wendy Mather at Generate.

As announced at the launch of the Screen Diversity and Inclusion Network (SDIN) on Monday evening, Screen Australia has also backed incentives led by CuriousWorks, I.C.E and MEAA’s Equity Foundation.

“We believe that I.C.E. and CuriousWorks’ grassroots approach to upskilling writers and producers from diverse backgrounds will play a substantial long-term role in improving the range of representations we see on screen,” said Moore.

“This work will be complemented by MEAA, who are seeking to expand the talent pool so that it more accurately reflects contemporary Australian society. These are highly targeted, industry-led initiatives that show the sector is actively coalescing around this issue.”

Among the projects funded via the Story Development program are:

  • An adaptation of Kenneth Cook’s novel Fear is the Rider, to be co-produced by Triptych Pictures and Lingo Pictures. Penned by Belinda Chayko, Kriv Stenders is attached to direct, while Kristian Moliere and Helen Bowden are producing. It follows a chance meeting of two travellers in an outback pub who end up being pursued across the desert by a man intent on killing them.
  • Psychological thriller Honey Trap, the debut feature from writer-director Sophie Miller, producer of The Family Law. To be produced by Sheila Jayadey, the film will follow a dangerous friendship between two teenage girls that leads to a murder.
  • An adaptation of Adelaide screenwriter Ann Turner’s novel The Lost Swimmer, about an archaeology professor who comes face to face with the consequences of love and trust. Turner is writing the screenplay with Sue Maslin (The Dressmaker) to produce.
  • TVC director Matt Devine’s debut feature Panyee FC from RevLover Films, produced by Martha Coleman and written by Natasha Pincus.
  • Dramedy The Vanity Unit about a dinner party in a retirement village, which ends in a mystery. Based on a story concept created by producer-director Clayton Jacobsen and writer-producers Belinda Bradley and Franz Docherty, with Gil Alder also producing.
  • Animated film When The Birds Aren’t Free To Be Buried, writer Osamah Sami’s follow up to Ali’s Wedding. Produced by Sheila Jayadev and Lynn Norfor, it is based on Sami’s childhood as an Arab refugee living in Iran during the Iran-Iraq war.

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