Shelly Lauman’s Birdie and Charles Williams’ All These Creatures will have their international and North American premieres respectively in the Short Cuts competition of the Toronto International Film Festival.
Funded by the inaugural $20,000 Australian Directors’ Guild/Metro Screen Production Fellowship, Birdie is described as a psychological thriller/social realist drama which follows a bright, ordinary woman as she walks alone to the train station.
As she descends the stairs to the underground platform she smiles at a young man who smiles back. With the smallest of gestures, the woman is caught in a subtle and sinister game.
Produced by Lizzie Cater and starring Maeve Dermody, Sam Parsonson, Joshua Brennan, Eden Falk and Lynette Curran, the film will premiere at the Melbourne International Film Festival on Sunday. It was one of 43 projects submitted to the ADG. Anna Howard ACS was the DOP and Danielle Boesenberg was the editor.
Lauman said: “This kind of violence, these ‘microaggressions’ that all women negotiate everyday, is such a gendered experience. Birdie was written in 2016, pre-Weinstein. At the time I shared the script with some of my male peers. A substantial number of them did not understand what was happening.
“On the one hand, it was reassuring that this kind of behaviour is unfathomable to them but on the other, it was deeply, deeply troubling that this violence is just so gendered and so invisible that it seems unbelievable. It is truly amazing that Birdie has landed now, when all eyes on are this, when the possibility of real change is occurring.”
Cater added: “Working with Shelly on this film has been a real career highlight for me. Her clarity of vision and attention to detail make her an accomplished filmmaker – and the message that Birdie carries makes her an accomplished filmmaker, with something very important to say.”
All These Creatures won this year’s Short Film Palme d’Or at Cannes. It stars 13-year old Ethiopian-Australian Yared Scott as Tempest, a boy trying to understand the dark presence growing inside his father and the events that led to an inexplicable tragedy while his backyard is infested with cicadas.
Williams is among the 16 practitioners who have been selected to travel to LA as part of Screen Australia/the Australian Writers’ Guild’s Talent USA contingent.
Australia will have a sizable presence in Toronto with those shorts and the world premieres of the Roache-Turner brothers’ sci-fi action-comedy Nekrotronic and Anthony Maras’ Hotel Mumbai…plus, we hear, a few more titles to be announced.