Don Groves is a Deadline contributor based in Sydney
New films from Red Dog director Kriv Stenders, Samson & Delilah helmer Warwick Thornton and first-time feature directors Wayne Hope and Kasimir Burgess are among 11 film and TV projects that secured funding Monday local time from Screen Australia. The agency is investing more than $A11.4 million ($12 million) in five features, five adult TV drama series and one children’s series, with combined budgets of more than $64 million. Stenders will direct Kill Me Three Times, a black comedic thriller set in an Australian coastal town written by James McFarland, starring Abbie Cornish, Alice Braga and Sullivan Stapleton; WME and Cargo Entertainment are handling international sales and Hopscotch eOne is the Australian distributor. Thornton’s The Darkside is a collection of ghost tales related by actors including The Sapphires’ Deborah Mailman and Sheri Sebbens, Bryan Brown, Brendan Cowell and Sacha Horler, which will give an indigenous perspective on the afterlife; Transmission will release locally. An experienced TV director, Hope will tackle Now Add Honey, a comedy about a suburban family whose life implodes when their pop star cousin comes to stay, written by his wife Robyn Butler; Lightning Entertainment has foreign and Roadshow will distribute in Australia. Burgess, whose short “Lily” won the 2011 Berlinale Crystal Bear, will make Fell, a fable of revenge, redemption and renewal scripted by Natasha Pincus; Maze Film Sales/The Yellow Affair are handling foreign sales and Footprint is the Oz distributor.
TV projects include The Code, a six-part thriller about a murder in the Outback that thrusts two brothers into an international political conspiracy, scripted by Shelley Birse, Blake Ayshford and Justin Monjo, directed by Shawn Seet for pubcaster ABC; FremantleMedia Enterprises has international. Another is Secrets and Lies: The Track, a six-part drama about an innocent man who becomes the prime suspect in the murder of a 4-year-old boy, written by Stephen Irwin for Network Ten; Cineflix is the international distrib. The children’s drama is Tashi, a 52 x 11 minutes animated series about a boy who’s sent to stay with relatives in a far off land, for the Seven Network and ABC-TV; Wavery Productions will field international rights.
The other projects include the previously announced feature Cut Snake, which will star Sullivan Stapleton and Ryan Kwanten; the four-hour TV series Never Tear Us Apart, which will chronicle Aussie band INXS, directed by Daina Reid, scripted by Justin Monjo and Dave Warner; Return to the Devil’s Playground, which will follow the characters introduced in Fred Schepisi’s 1976 film The Devil’s Playground 35 years on,, directed by Rachel Ward and Tony Krawitz; and Power Games: The Packer-Murdoch Story, which will chart the long-time rivalry between Rupert Murdoch and Frank Packer and his son Kerry Packer.