Wednesday, January 5, 2011

The Australian Films of 2011

Just like I've done in 2009 and 2010 prior, I'm here to have a look at the Australian films that audiences will hopefully get the chance to set their eyes upon in 2011.

As always, local distribution can leave many films in limbo.

As always, local productions can tend to be a lot longer.

As always, local films will go direct-to-DVD, incredibly limited, festival only or just never get released. You'll hear of a lot of these titles next year, too.

As always, local productions that I never knew existed will suddenly appear. I mean, can you believe in last year's roundup I didn't even include Joffa: The Movie? Say it ain't so!

As always, take this list with a grain of salt. Not all of these films will be 2011 releases - whether that be because they're not finished or because the distribution just won't occur until then. There are many films on this list that were on here last year, too, and they'll appear next year as well I am sure since, as I've made it quite clear, Australian distribution can be a tricky thing to work your head around. For every Bran Nue Dae that seems to get funded, made and released all quite easily, there is a title like Ektopos that I hear about for years and was seemingly made and yet has vanished into thin air.

Some titles, such as Mark Lewis' Cane Toads: The Conquest, Bill Bennett's Uninhabited, Josh Reed's Primal, Daley Pearson and Luke Tierney's $quid: The Movie and James Rabbitts' The Clinic that I've all mentioned in previous years will, I doubt, ever get a theatrical release outside of the film festivals they have already appeared at before, at one point or another, appearing on DVD. It's a shame, but with such a large roster of local films (and it is large when you consider that it equals at least one every two weeks) it is inevitable. And then there's product like In Her Skin, which is sad and will probably never be seen due to legal wranglings. I'm not even going to mention Wolf Creek 2, The Sapphires, Lore or A Few Best Men, which have no hope of coming out this year.

Shall we take a look at what 2011 has in store for us?

A Heartbeat Away (dir. Gale Edwards)
A young musician must become the leader of marching bad after his father dies four weeks out from a big competition. I can almost see the quotes on the movie poster: "Inspiring", "Joyful hymn to life!" (er, let's not compare to Slumdog Millionaire, okay?) and so forth. It stars Sebastian Gregory, Isabel Lucas, William Zappa, Kerry Walker, Colin Friels and Roy Billing, plus it's bound to have some nice musical sequences (well, we should hope so, anyway), so maybe I should put my cynicism aside.
A Heartbeat Away on IMDb

Bait in 3D (dir. Russell Mulcahy & Kimble Rendall
The first of two killer shark movies on this list, although this one could very possibly be moved to 2012. It has a cast of full of recognisable names and faces like Xavier Samuel (Twilight: Eclipse), Sharni Vinson (Step Up 3D), Lincoln Lewis (Tomorrow When the War Began), Julian McMahon (Nip/Tuck), Fiona Tonkin (Tomorrow When the War Began), Martin Sacks (Underbelly: The Golden Mile) and Dan Wyllie (Animal Kingdom) as well as a pack of pesky sharks in all their 3D glory after a tsunami traps a group of Gold Coast tourists in a shopping mall. It sounds like a hoot! The film's Facebook page has been great at keeping up with behind-the-scenes footage, images and TV appearances. I personally like this video I found that includes storyboards and test footage, which gives us a good look at what we can expect.
Bait on IMDb
Bait on Facebook

Big Mamma's Boy (dir. Franco di Chiera)
I had completely forgotten about this title, but then when my eyes glanced upon it I remembered: "THIS IS THE HOLLY VALANCE MOVIE!!!" The poster - which I'm not even going to show you it's that awful - looks so blatantly direct-to-DVD and yet, bless 'em for trying, it boldly states "IN CINEMAS 2011". Good luck with that.

**Edit: Turns out this is a legitimate movie getting a legitimate release through a legitimate distributor and legitimate people have legitimately seen it. Okay then. Apparently set for release in June.**
Big Mamma's Boy on IMDb
Big Mamma's Boy on Facebook
Big Mamma's Boy on Twitter

Blame (dir. Michael Henry)
Was supposed to get a release last year, but was scrapped until - as its Facebook page says - early 2011. Stars Kestie Morassi, Sophie Lowe, Damian de Montemas, Simon Stone and Mark Leonard Winter. Got polite notices at Melbourne and Chicago film festivals last year.
Blame on IMDb
Blame on Facebook

Burning Man (dir. Jonathan Teplitzky)
Just a hunch, but I have a feeling that Jonathan Teplitzky's first film since the ace Gettin' Square in 2003 could be a real king hit of a movie. It certainly helps with the cast that he has amassed; Matthew Goode, Rachel Griffiths, Bojana Novakovic, Essie Davis, Kerry Fox, Anthony Hayes, Kate Beahan and Gia Carides. The buzz has been building before the film's Sundance and Sydney Film Festival screenings for this "reckless, sexy, provocative and ultimately tear-jerking father and son tale." Australia/UK co-production.
Burning Man on IMDb

Caught Inside (dir. Adam Blaiklock)
I went searching for titles and I came across this one, which I'd forgot about since it won the IF "Independent Spirit" award. So, welcome to the list, Caught Inside. You star Ben Oxenbould, Harry Cook (who I liked in Accidents Happen last year), Peter Phelps and Leeanna Walsman.
Caught Inside on IMDb
Caught Inside on Facebook
Caught Inside official website

The Cup (dir. Simon Wincer)
"From the director of Free Willy" reads the poster. Whether "From the director Harlequin" was considered is unknown to me. Either way, Simon Wincer's The Cup is surely aiming to be one of the big box office hitters of 2011. With a cast that includes Stephen Curry as the famed jockey Damien Oliver, plus Daniel McPherson, Brendan Gleeson, Tom Burlinson (who hasn't acted in 15 years), Alice Parkinson, Kate Bell, Bill Hunter, Martin Sacks, Jodi Gordon, Rodger Corser and Shaun Micallef. That's quite an enviable ensemble, you've got to admit. I imagine this film will come our way around October when the Spring Racing Carnival amps up, peaking on the first Tuesday of November with the Melbourne Cup.

Sports movies are a genre that I've always felt Australian cinema has underestimated, so it's good to see one like this. Let's hope it's good and that audiences go.
The Cup on IMDb

The Dark Lurking (dir. Gregory Connors)
The be perfectly honest with you, this Doom meets Alien (ish) local sci-fi horror flick looks dreadful. It was filmed in Queensland, but looks like a basement anywhere. It has already received an American DVD release and, I suppose, will get one down here too at some point.
The Dark Lurking on IMDb
The Dark Lurking on
The Dark Lurking on Twitter
The Dark Lurking official website

Dreamland (dir. Ivan Sen)
I am already a massive fan of Ivan Sen's experimental soundscape art film and I so hope it receives a release of some kind. And a cinematic release at that since it is a film that needs to be experienced on a big screen. I read that it's screening in Melbourne in February as a part of a festival, but I can't remember what it was exactly. Gah! The film's producer mentioned at MIFF that Sen had another film all ready to go, but there's nothing out there about it so we'll leave that one for now.
Dreamland on IMDb
Dreamland on Facebook
Dreamland on Twitter
Dreamland official website

Eliminated! (dir. Dee McLachlan)
Local "terrorist comedy" from the director of buzzy 2007 arthouse hit The Jammed. There are stunts and explosions and action and who knows what else. I hope to see it pop up at some point this year since it filmed in 2009.
Eliminated! on IMDb
Eliminated! on Twitter

Exit (dir. Marek Polgar)
I confess to not knowing much about Exit other than it exists and that it's written by awesome Melbourne filmy type @Martyn Pedler.
Exit on Facebook
Exit official website

EXIT teaser from Surface Tension Films on Vimeo.

The Eye of the Storm (dir. Fred Schepisi)
A local film from Fred Schepisi, starring Geoffrey Rush, Judy Davis and Charlotte Rampling. I signed up long ago and I reckon this could be a solid mid-range hit if older audiences catch on to it. It's being distributed by Transmission Films so I have no doubt they'll work their magic with it.
The Eye of the Storm on IMDb

Griff the Invisible (dir. Leon Ford)
Definitely one that we've been anticipating around these parts is this local sorta-noir, sorta-romcom, sorta-superhero movie starring Ryan Kwanten, Maeve Dermody and ASHKA!!!! ...I mean Heather Mitchell. If we have to have yet more superhero movies then why not have them a little bit more niche and unconventional, yeah? Griff will be screening at Berlinale and has already had some special screenings here in Australia so there's a few reactions out there. It's set for a March release, so not long to wait yet.
Griff the Invisible on IMDb
Griff the Invisible on Facebook
Griff the Invisible on Twitter
Griff the Invisible official website

Hail (dir. Amiel Courtin-Wilson)
A blending of documentary and drama from the director of Bastardy. There was an open call casting session for this a while back I remember hearing about. It will screen at this year's Bigpond Adelaide Film Festival.
Hail on IMDb
Hail on Facebook
Hail official website

Happy Feet 2 in 3D (dir. George Miller)
The sequel to George Miller's tapdancing penguin Oscar winner from 2006 will arrive in November 2011 to the delight of children and the chagrin of anyone who hates the thought of tapdancing penguins. I enjoyed the first one a lot, so I'm looking forward to it. It appears most of the cast is returning, although Brittany Murphy will sadly not. Sofia Vergara is on the cast list too, which means more Spanish penguins! ...okay then. Matt Damon and Brad Pitt are also on the list of voice talent so you can expect to hear a lot about Happy Feet 2.
Happy Feet 2 in 3D on IMDb

Here I Am (dir. Beck Cole)
One of the titles I am most intrigued is this film about an imprisoned Aboriginal woman trying to deal with life on the outside. It sounds tough, but so was Samson & Delilah, ya know? Speaking of that breakthrough film from 2009, Beck Cole was the director of Making Samson & Delilah, the behind the scenes documentary that screened at MIFF and on ABC Television. It's produced by the same producer (Kath Shelper) and cinematography is by Warwick Thornton. Could be a big breakthrough for both Cole and her star, Shai Pittman. Will premiere at BAFF.
Here I Am on IMDb

The Hunter (dir. Daniel Nettheim)
Tasmanian Tigers return in this film starring Willem Dafoe, Sam Neill, Frances O'Connor, Sullivan Stapleton, Jacek Koman, Dan Wyllie and young Morgana Davies from The Tree. One of the cutest moments from the recently AFI Awards was seeing Morgana cheering wildly from the audience when Dafoe walked out on stage to present an award.
The Hunter on IMDb
The Hunter official website

Jucy (dir. Louise Alston)
I was a big fan of Alston's last film, All My Friends are Leaving Brisbane, and her next is another comedy. Screened at Toronto International Film Festival and should pop up at some point down here in 2011. Considering Brisbane was so good and could barely mustre any release of any kind outside of its home state makes me, shall we say, cautious that Jucy will receive anything other than a similar fate, which is a bit sad. The people who've seen it seem to really like it, so...
Jucy on IMDb
Jucy on Facebook
Jucy on Twitter
Jucy official website

The Killer Elite (dir. Gary McKendry)
The Australian media have already claimed it as "our" movie, so why not throw it on here? Besides all the big Hollywood names (Robert DeNiro, Jason Statham, Clive Owen, Jason Statham's Abs) there is a whole swag of talented local actors like Ben Mendselsohn, Yvonne Strahovski, Michael Dorman, Firass Dirani, Lachy Hulme and Grant Bowler.
The Killer Elite on IMDb

Life in Movement (dir. Sophie Hyde & Bryan Mason)
Documentary about dancer/choreographer Tanja Liedtke.
Life in Movement on IMDb
Life in Movement on Facebook

Little Johnny: The Movie (dir. Ralph Moser)
Oh my lord, what is this? "You've Heard The Jokes - Now Meet the Legend" - I am officially terrified. Will screen on - wait for it - April Fools Day at the Melbourne International Comedy Festival before... some other sort of release? Who knows. Wow.
Little Johnny: The Movie on IMDb
Little Johnny: The Movie on Facebook
Little Johnny: The Movie on Twitter
Little Johnny: The Movie official website

Mad Bastards (dir. Brendan Fletcher)
Another film - alongside Here I Am - that looks at the indigenous cultures of Australia. This time it sounds a bit more upbeat with music and comedy thrown into the tale of a "an urban street warrior who meets his match in the form of a local police officer."
Mad Bastards on IMDb
Mad Bastards on Facebook
Mad Bastards official website

Mei Mei (dir. Pauline Chan)
I hadn't heard of this film, but it stars Guy Pearce, Claudia Karvan, Rhys Muldoon and Lincoln Lewis so I better mention it.
Mei Mei on IMDb

Moonlite (dir. Rohan Spong)
I recall Rohan Spong's acclaimed documentary, T is for Teacher, as I read about Moonlite and can't quite see how he got from there to here (apart from the queer element), but isn't that the magic of cinema? This - and I quote - "graphic noval style depiction of the life and times of queer Australian bushranger Captain Moonlite" was filmed in green screen and stars various names like Tasma Walton, Ian Roberts and Barry Crocker. Even if it fails, it certainly sounds like it will be a fascinating failure. This isn't exactly the usual type of Australian film, yeah?
Moonlite on IMDb
Moonlite on Facebook
Moonlite on Twitter
Moonlite official website

Mrs Carey's Concert (dir. Bob Connolly & Sophie Raymond)
Music documentary, screening at BAFF, that's noteworthy for Bob Connolly's name. He of Oscar-nominated First Contact as well as Rats in the Ranks and Facing the Music. Tells the story of Mrs Carey, a school music director who puts on a concert at the Sydney Opera House with all 1200 of her school's students.
Mrs Carey's Concert on IMDb
Mrs Carey's Concert on Facebook
Mrs Carey's Concert official website

Needle (dir. John V Soto)
To put it kindly, I was not a fan of Soto's last stab (oh haha!) at horror, Crush. His latest - this time going it alone - is Needle, which has been creating a bit of buzz on the horror sites. Not really enough to get me excited, but I'm intrigued by its cast that includes recent AFI winner for Animal Kingdom, Ben Mendelsohn, as well as Jessica Marais, Michael Dorman, Luke Carroll and John Jarratt.
Needle on IMDb
Needle on Facebook
Needle on Twitter
Needle official website

Oranges and Sunshine (dir. Jim Loach)
A film by Ken Loach's son, this UK/Australia co-production stars Emily Watson, David Wenham, Hugo Weaving and Tara Morice. It sounds a bit like Romulus My Father, as it deals with immigrants, but that's probably where the similarities end. It was filmed in Adelaide and will be released in April. Hey, if it's marketed as British then maybe people will go and see it! Below is a video of Loach and Watson at the Rome Film Festival.
Oranges and Sunshine on IMDb
Oranges and Sunshine on Facebook

Red Dog (dir. Kriv Stenders)
An adaptation of Louis de Bernieres' best-selling novel that I can see being quite successful is done well. Kriv Stenders is a director whose films I can be very hot or very cold on (Lucky Country, Illustrated Family Doctor for examples, respectively), and I hope he does good work here. Acting in it will be Josh Lucas, Rachael Taylor, Keisha Castle-Hughes, Luke Ford and Noah Taylor (where has he been lately?) People love movies about animals, don't they?

I dare you to watch the "screen test" of Koko, the dog hired to play "Red Dog". It's great! Trust me! You'll be "awww"-ing all the way through.
Red Dog at IMDb
Red Dog official website

The Reef (dir. Andrew Traucki)
I feel like I have been talking about this movie for years. And that's because I have! It's finally set for a March release (conveniently at the end of summer? hmmm) and I can't wait. As much fun as I expect Bait to be, my experience with Andrew Traucki is that he makes bonza fright flicks. If you've never seen it I suggest you get your hands on a copy of Black Water immediately. The Reef is already out in some countries, including on DVD, so keep a look out.
The Reef on IMDb
The Reef on Facebook
The Reef on Twitter

Sanctum (dir. Alister Grierson)
A co-production between USA and Australia, "James Cameron's Sanctum" (as the poster calls it) is everything you'd expect a James Cameron movie to be, except not directed by James Cameron or made on a James Cameron budget. There's water (a lot of it, it's set in underwater caves), there's 3D and there's action. Some people weren't too impressed by the trailer, mostly because the dialogue and the acting looks quite direct-to-DVD, but I think it looks quite good if nothing else. I'm not sure how Alister Grierson got the job - his last movie was Kokoda - but it's hardly James Cameron's mission to hire dodgy directors to make his movies, is it? Stars Richard Roxburgh, Rhys Wakefield, Ioan Gruffudd, Dan Wyllie and Alice Parkinson.
Sanctum on IMDb
Sanctum on Facebook
Sanctum official website

Say Nothing (dir. Keiren Darcy-Smith)
Say Nothing is the feature directorial debut for Keiren Darcy-Smith (so good in films The Square and September amongst others) and stars Joel Edgerton and Teresa Palmer. It's the story about four friends who go on a holiday to South East Asia and only three return. It's a thriller and started filming in December. Almost certainly a 2011 release, but if I didn't include it how could I include this image?
Say Nothing on IMDb
Say Nothing on on Facebook
Say Nothing on Twitter

Shut Up Little Man! An Audio Misadventure (dir. Matthew Bate)
A documentary about "two Gen X slackers" who record a neighbour's quarrel that ends up going viral on the internet. Could be fascinating. Screens at BAFF.
Shut Up Little Man! An Audio Misadventure on IMDb
Shut Up Little Man! An Audio Misadventure on Facebook
Shut Up Little Man! An Audio Misadventure official website

Snowtown (dir. Justin Kurzel)
Feature film dramatisation of the events that surrounded the famous "bodies in the barrels" serial killings in South Australia between 1992 and 1999. Could be something really special, although the unknown director and unknown actors suggest it will be minor is other aspects. The teaser looked like a bizarre and disturbing, but we'll wait and see. Will be one of the big premiers at BAFF since it's the story's home state. Will be released in May.
Snowtown on IMDb
Snowtown on Facebook

The Tall Man (dir. Tony Krawitz)
The director of JewBoy directs this documentary about the death in custody of Cameron Doomadgee at Palm Island.

The Tunnel (dir. Carlos Ledesma)
a groundbreaking production in that they raised their budget by asking regular, ordinary folks to purchase frames of film for $1 (or, a second of film for $50 and so forth), which is a very nifty idea. Furthermore, The Tunnel will skip theatrical release and DVD and will, instead, premiere on torrent services. It's been one of the most fascinating productions to follow and I look forward to the movie, especially since the trailer makes it look like it's got its wearing its Blair Witch Project / [rec] inspirations with pride.

Did you buy your frame? I did!
The Tunnel on IMDb
The Tunnel on Facebook
The Tunnel on Twitter
The Tunnel official website

Wasted on the Young
One of the earliest Australian releases of the year will be the tough teen drama that screened to high praise and high scorn at festivals such as Toronto and Sydney. I'm definitely intrigued by it, that's for sure, and it will be interesting to see how Paramount markets it.
Wasted on the Young on IMDb
Wasted on the Young on Facebook
Wasted on the Young official website

Wrath (dir. Jonathan Neil Dixon)
Another one I was completely unaware of, but it seems to have been made. Appears to be a thriller set in the outback. 'cause, ya know, there aren't enough of those. They say "mid 2011". I see Prey fortunes for this one, unfortunately.
Wrath on IMDb
Wrath on Facebook
Wrath official website

X (dir. Jon Hewitt)
The director of Acolytes and Bloodlust is always bound to get people talking, and with his latest film being touted as a chase thriller about call girls you can bet X will be no different. I love the poster, although the NSFW teaser trailer left a bad taste in my mouth (oh, gross - can we forget I typed that?) Due to its subject matter it will be another title that will definitely be worth following.
X on IMDb

If you have any other titles that you know about - if you're involved in any yourself and can confirm release dates/timelines, too - then feel free to speak up in the comments section.


Mickche said...

Just a note on Big Mamma's Boy.
Its on Madman's list of 2011 planned releases.
Also on that list is The Hunter

RJ said...

Great roundup. Managed to see Rogue, Road Train, Newcastle, and The Loved Ones recently so I'm definitely looking for some more Australian movies to see. I saw Crush on Netflix Instant but that cover was a no go.

Brittani Burnham said...

Great post! I hope some of these make their way to my town. I've always loved Australian cinema.

Daniel Crichton-Rouse said...

Excellent list.

Not sure if you're aware, but for the other readers that mightn't be, Mad Bastards has its world premiere at The Quadrangle, University of Sydney on 18 January as part of Sydney Festival's A Night At The Quad programme.

And following on from what Mickche has said, Madman have given the following release dates on their latest schedule:

Snowtown: 19 May
Big Mamma's Boy: "June"

Anonymous said...

I've seen The Reef and it was a really fun and fairly well done shark film. Bait on the other hand may be overkill for me. My one mortal terror is sharks and Bait just looks.... too.... yeah no.

Some really good films coming from down under these days.

BRENTON said...

Looking forward to 'The Eye of the Storm' being a great fan of Patrick White. Also,'Snowtown' will definitely be all the talk here in South Australia, when it is released.

Anonymous said...

A comedy horror mockumentry titled 'Bloody hell' will be completed mid year and hit the festival circuit.

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