‘I Am Woman.’

Unjoo Moon’s debut feature I Am Woman will premiere on Stan as a Stan Original on August 28 – the latest in a growing list of Australian films to bypass cinemas as the pandemic continues to depress the theatrical market.

This follows the straight-to-streaming deals for Dean Murphy’s comedy The Very Excellent Mr Dundee, (Amazon Prime Video, July 17), Natalie Erika James’ Relic (Stan, July 10) and digital releases Maziar Lahooti’s Below (July 8), Ben Lawrence’s Hearts and Bones (May 6) and Alexs Stadermann’s animated feature 100% Wolf.

Cinemagoers may well feel aggrieved about missing the opportunity to see these films in cinemas, although Hearts and Bones and 100% Wolf did play on a handful of screens, as did Kriv Stenders’ Brock: Over the Top.

But distributors can hardly be blamed for opting not to spend up to a million dollars on marketing while ticket sales remain at historically low levels. Transmission Films had planned cinema releases for Moon and Murphy’s films.

Exhibitors would have loved the chance to screen at least some of these films but most understand the current, daunting economics of film distribution.

“We were hoping for I Am Woman to stay as a cinema release as it would definitely appeal to our female and older demographic but at the same time I do understand the decision to move to streaming on certain titles from a financial standpoint,” Hayden Orpheum Picture Palace general manager Alex Temesvari tells IF.

“We’re all making tough decisions at the moment. Our hearts are broken for our exhibitor friends in Melbourne who had worked so hard to reopen, just to have to close again and the ever shifting release dates for major Hollywood content also has us rightfully concerned.”

However Wallis Cinema’s programming manager David Simpson is disappointed by this trend. “Yes, we were conscious I am Woman was headed to streaming: discouraging,” he tells IF. “Dundee is another being cast off into the online content necropolis.”

On a positive note, several Wallis locations screened Mark Lamprell’s Never Too Late yesterday in partnership with the Adelaide Film Festival, ahead of the national launch in October via R&R Films.

“We had confident audience turn-outs for Never Too Late; the audience is there,” Simpson said.

Produced by Goalpost Pictures’ Rosemary Blight and scripted by Emma Jensen, I Am Woman stars Tilda Cobham-Hervey as Helen Reddy, who arrived in New York from Melbourne in 1966 with her three-year-old daughter, a suitcase and $230 in her pocket.

Within weeks she was broke. Within months she was in love. Within five years she was one of the biggest superstars of her time, and an icon of the 1970s feminist movement, who wrote a song which galvanised a generation of women to fight for change.

Danielle Macdonald co-stars as Reddy’s friend, rock journalist Lillian Roxon, with Evan Peters as her husband and manager Jeff Wald. The DOP was Dion Beebe.

Funded by Screen Australia, WestEnd Films, Screen NSW, Adelaide Film Festival, South Australian Film Corporation and the Goodship Women’s Fund, the film had its world premiere at the 2019 Toronto International Film Festival where it opened the Special Presentations section.

Blight said: “We are thrilled that I Am Woman has found its home on Stan. With Stan’s incredible reach, so many Australians will be able to enjoy watching and singing along to I Am Woman in the comfort and safety of their homes.”

Nick Forward, Stan’s chief content officer, added: “Having inspired generations, Unjoo Moon, Tilda Cobham-Hervey and the whole team have done such an incredible job bringing Helen Reddy’s inspirational story to life.”

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