Brendan Cowell’s directing debut Ruben Guthrie will have its world premiere as the opening night attraction of the Sydney Film Festival.
Starring Patrick Brammall as a hard-partying Sydney ad man who seeks to start a new chapter in his life after a near-death experience, the comedy will screen at the State Theatre on Wednesday June 3.
Produced by Kath Shelper, the film co-stars Alex Dimitriades, Abbey Lee, Harriet Dyer, Jeremy Sims, Brenton Thwaites, Aaron Bertram, Robyn Nevin and Jack Thompson.
Cowell adapted the screenplay from his Belvoir St Theatre production. Madman Entertainment will launch the film nationally on July 16.
Cowell said, “I am beyond excited to have my first film open the Sydney Film Festival. To screen this very Sydney story to a packed house at the State Theatre is a dream come true, and I can’t wait for audiences to enjoy this comic tale of love, loss and liquor.”
While it's a comedy, there is a serious undertone. Cowell said, "Ruben Guthrie is the great untold Australian binge-drinking comedy. I hope the movie will start a national conversation that will change the way we look at booze forever."
Festival director Nashen Moodley said, “It is a marvellous directorial debut for Brendan Cowell – hard-hitting, touching and surprisingly funny, an intensely human film that represents the best of Australian screen production.”
The synopsis: Life is good for ad man Ruben Guthrie – he leads a party boy lifestyle, has a model fiancée and lives in a house on the water. He’s at the top of his game, until some drunken skylarking lands Ruben at the bottom of his infinity pool, lucky to be alive. His mum hits the panic button, and then his fiancée leaves him, but not before issuing him one final challenge: If Ruben can do one year without a drink, she’ll give him another chance…
Ruben Guthrie is the story of one man not only battling the bottle, but the city that won’t let him put it down.
Earlier this month the festival announced 27 new films to be featured in this year’s event, which runs June 3-14, plus an Ingmar Bergman retrospective curated by David Stratton.
They include Kim Farrant's thriller Strangerland starring Nicole Kidman, Joseph Fiennes and Hugo Weaving; John Maclean's Slow West, a new twist on the classic western starring Michael Fassbender, Kodi Smit-McPhee and Ben Mendelsohn; Bill Condon's Mr Holmes, which has Sir Ian McKellen as a 93-year-old Sherlock Holmes obsessing over his last unsolved case; and Swedish director Roy Andersson's black comedy A Pigeon Sat on a Branch Reflecting on Existence, winner of the Golden Lion at the Venice Film Festival.
True stories on offer include Going Clear: Scientology and the Prison of Belief, Alex Gibney's exposé of that movement's sway over Hollywood; Love & Mercy, Bill Pohlad's Brian Wilson/Beach Boys biopic starring John Cusack and Paul Dano; and The Look of Silence, Joshua Oppenheimer's follow-up to The Act of Killing.
Also revealed were a new screening venue, Dendy Newtown, and an expanded family-film program. The full program of 200+ films will be launched on Wednesday May 6 .