Six Australian films set for world premieres at MIFF

‘The Butterfly Tree’. 

Celebrating its tenth anniversary, the MIFF Premiere Fund will present six world premieres at the 66th Melbourne International Film Festival (MIFF), including Greg McLean’s survival thriller Jungle.

The festival runs August 3-20; the full program will be launched on July 11, with general public individual session tickets on sale from July 14.

The six premieres are:

The Butterfly Tree, the feature debut of director Priscilla Cameron, is a coming-of-age tale of love and loss tinged with magical realism, starring Melissa George, Ewen Leslie, Ed Oxenbould and Sophie Lowe.

Naina Sen’s The Song Keepers chronicles the hidden musical legacy of ancient Aboriginal languages and German baroque songs that are being preserved by the Central Australian Aboriginal Women’s Choir.

Eddie Martin’s Have You Seen the Listers? is a moving personal account of the artistic and commercial rise of Australia’s most renowned street artist, which came with a deep personal cost.

In Westwind: Djalu’s Legacy, director Ben Strunin portrays Yolngu elder Djalu Gurruwiwi’s quest to pass his people’s ancient song lines and culture to the next generation – with a little help from global pop star Gotye.

Rabbit is a chilling fairytale feature debut from director Luke Shanahan in which identical twins are linked by more than just DNA, starring Alex Russell and Adelaide Clemens.

The opening night selection, Jungle stars Alex Russell and Daniel Radcliffe in a thriller based on the real-life story of adventurer Yossi Ghinsberg.

The Premiere Fund, which offers minority co-financing to new Australian narrative and documentary theatrical features that then premiere at MIFF, has invested in a total of 56 projects. To celebrate the anniversary, MIFF will have retro screenings of three classics:

  • Balibo (2009), Robert Connolly’s political thriller starring Oscar Isaac and Anthony LaPaglia.
  • Bastardy (2008), Amiel Courtin-Wilson’s impressionistic portrait of the life of Indigenous arts personality Jack Charles.
  • Blessed (2009), Ana Kokkinos’ drama about families, love and loss, starring Frances O’Connor, Miranda Otto, Deborra-Lee Furness, William McInnes, Sophie Lowe, Harrison Gilbertson and Reef Ireland.

Meanwhile will feature a new dedicated Premiere Fund page outlining all 56 investments along with a link to a new iTunes page where many of those films can be purchased.

Among the notable milestones over the 10 years:

  • Nearly 32 per cent of the fund’s films had female directors (versus Screen Australia-reported industry average of 16 per cent).
  • Nearly 59 per cent had female producers (versus industry average of 32 per cent).
  • 41 per cent included youth themes.
  • 27 per cent had elements portraying Culturally & Linguistically Diverse Communities (CALDs), with 5 per cent having CALD creative principals (director and/or producer(s).
  • 16 per cent included Indigenous themes and/or characters (including Bran Nue Dae), and nearly 7 per cent had Indigenous creative principals.
  • 13 per cent included LGBTI characters and/or issues, with 18 per cent involving LGBTI creative principals.
  • Some 50% of Premiere Fund movies were helmed by first-time directors.

MIFF Premiere Fund executive producer Mark Woods said, “The talent we have been able to support has been incredible – 19 per cent of Premiere Fund films are directed by alumni of MIFF emerging director workshop Accelerator Lab and 48 per cent advanced their funding at MIFF’s film financing event 37ºSouth Market – so we really do feel like we come on a long journey with these projects.”