Toomelah and Sleeping Beauty selected for Cannes International Film Festival

Two Australian feature films have been selected for this year's Cannes International Film Festival, where they will have their world premieres.

Erotic fairytale Sleeping Beauty has been selected for competition while indigenous tale Toomelah will be shown as part of the Un Certain Regard program.

No Australian features were selected by last year's festival although Australian-French co-produciton The Tree was shown at the closing ceremony.

Sleeping Beauty, written and directed by Julia Leigh and starring Emily Browning and Michael Dorman, follows Lucy, a young university student drawn into a mysterious hidden world of beauty and desire.

Leigh said she wanted to make a film that elicited a sense of wonder from the audience.

“I wanted to make a film where the audience responds with ‘did I really see that?’ and ‘did I really hear that?’ and ‘can such a thing really exist’? A response of intense wonder rather than shock.

“I’m deeply grateful to be participating in a festival which has long shaped my love of cinema.”

Toomelah, written and directed by Ivan Sen, is a provocative and comic tale about a boy called Kiren who wants to be a gangster, and his life growing up in a remote Aboriginal community.

Australians have a strong track record in Un Certain Regard – a category reserved for films that express a personal vision, with an emphasis on special cultural expression and cinematic innovation. In 2006, Rolf de Heer’s Ten Canoes won the special jury prize while in 2009, Warwick Thornton's Samson and Delilah, which was also shown in Un Certain Regard, won the filmmaker the Caméra d'Or award.

Toomelah is a pretty unique movie, which was made in a very unorthodox way,” Sen said in a statement.

“I try not to get too carried away about festivals, but Toomelah, the community, is my family's home and I'm so proud of them all. I'm related to almost everyone there and almost half the population pops up in the film. It will be an honour to take the movie and the cast to Cannes. One of them has never been on a plane before and the lead actor, Daniel, has only been as far as Brisbane.”

Screen Australia chief executive Ruth Harley said the selection of both films is a wonderful achievement and will catapult the careers of the filmmakers.

Sleeping Beauty
Production Company: Magic Films Pty Ltd
Writer/Director: Julia Leigh
Producer: Jessica Brentnall
Executive Producers: Timothy White, Jamie Hilton
Cast: Emily Browning, Michael Dorman, Mirrah Foulkes
Sales and Distribution: Transmission, E1 Films and UTA
Synopsis: Lucy, a disenchanted and financially strapped university student, accepts work as a sleeper in a ‘Sleeping Beauty’ chamber: “You will go to sleep, you will wake up. It will be as if the hours never existed.” The first man to visit Lucy venerates her youth and beauty. The second is sadistic. Nonetheless she returns…

Production Company: Bunya Productions
Writer/Director: Ivan Sen
Producer: David Jowsey
Cast: Daniel Conners, Christopher Edwards
Sales: Visit Films
Synopsis: Toomelah is the story of a boy called Kiren who wants to be a gangster and his daily life growing up in a remote Aboriginal community – a provocative and comic story that transports audiences inside the community, creating an authentic world and way of life that is ‘Toomelah’…

Toomelah: Christopher Edwards, Daniel Connors and Michael Connors walking