Don Groves is a Deadline contributor based in Sydney
Hugo Weaving and Don Hany will star in Healing, an Australian drama about a sympathetic prison warden and his efforts to rehabilitate an Iranian-born prisoner, one of four features agency Screen Australia agreed to co-finance at its board meeting today. The other films that secured Screen Australia investment are Aim High in Creation, a hybrid documentary-drama celebrating “the cinematic genius” of the late North Korean dictator Kim Jong-il, from writer/director Anna Broinowski and producer Lizzette Atkins; and the previously announced The Rover, a futuristic Western from Animal Kingdom writer/director David Michôd, starring Robert Pattinson and Guy Pearce; and Felony, which will star Joel Edgerton as a decorated cop who knocks down a young cyclist while driving home after celebrating a drug bust, scripted by Edgerton and directed by Mathew Saville.
Healing will be directed by Craig Monahan, who co-scripted with Alison Nisselle. Los Angeles-based Lightning Entertainment is handling international sales and Pinnacle is the local distributor. Producer Tait Brady tells Deadline the film is based on a true story in which the rehabilitation of the long-term prisoner involved building an aviary in the low-security prison. The UK’s High Point Media Group is selling foreign on Aim High in Creation, which Antidote Films will release in Oz. FilmNation reps internationally The Rover, which Michôd is producing with David Linde’s Lava Bear Fims and Porchlight Films’ Liz Watts, with Roadshow as the Australian distributor. Roadshow also is aboard Felony, produced by Goalpost Pictures’ Rosemary Blight with Edgerton’s Blue Tongue Films, with The Solution Entertainment Group handling overseas sales.
Screen Australia is investing nearly $A20 million ($20.6M) in those films plus eight adult television dramas and children’s TV series, with a total production value of $A100 million ($103.1M). The TV projects include Gallipoli, a four-part Nine Network mini-series based on a book by Les Carlyon produced by Southern Star Entertainment, with Endemol Worldwide aboard; Wentworth, FremantleMedia’s “re-imagining” of the popular 1980s series Prisoner (Cell Block H in the U.S.) for pay-TV platform Foxtel; Better Man, a four-part true-crime drama for broadcaster SBS, produced by FremantleMedia Australia and Bravado Productions, about a man who was hanged in Singapore in 2005 for attempting to traffic heroin from Cambodia to Australia; and Parer’s War, an ABC telemovie biopic about cameraman Damien Parer, who was killed by Japanese soldiers in the Pacific in WW2. Among the kids series is Matchbox Productions’ The Lost Boys, the saga of four lads who get lost in the forest and discover when they return home they’re in an alternate world in which they were never born, backed by NBCUniversal International.