US deal for first-time director Jason Raftopoulos’ ‘West of Sunshine’

‘West of Sunshine.’

Dark Star Pictures will distribute first-time writer-director Jason Raftopoulos’ drama West of Sunshine in the US, the third international market where the film will be released theatrically.

The film starring Damian Hill and his stepson Tyler Perham will open in at least five US cities including Los Angeles and New York, probably in October, with the potential to expand depending on the initial results.

The world sales agent Exile Entertainment previously sold the title to China’s DDDream, where it is awaiting censorship, and to France’s ASC Entertainment, which plans a September release on around 20 screens including five in Paris.

Hill plays a working-class Melbourne man who is forced to care for his son (Perham) while he has less than a day to repay a $15,000 debt to a vicious loan shark. The cast includes Kat Stewart, Tony Nikolakopoulos and Arthur Angel.

Former Breaking Glass Pictures’ executive Michael Repsch, who launched Dark Star Pictures at last year’s American Film Market, saw West of Sunshine shortly after its world premiere at the Venice International Film Festival, where it was widely acclaimed.

Exile MD Alexandros Ouzas had known Repsch for several years and was impressed with his release strategy which will target slightly more mature females.

Ouzas says: “We think the film’s themes of parenthood, love and addiction will appeal to that demographic.” Exile plans to launch the film in Oz on 10-15 screens in late August after the Sydney Film Festival premiere.

Raftopoulos has been nominated for best direction in a feature film at the ADG awards together with Greg McLean for Jungle, Jeffrey Walker for Ali’s Wedding, Simon Baker for Breath and Tori Garrett for Don’t Tell.

Dark Star Pictures’ initial slate includes the Thomas Middleditch comedy Entanglement, noir thriller Gutland, political fantasy All You Can Eat Buddha and crime thriller The Queen of Hollywood Blvd.