Tuesday, April 19, 2011

An Australian in Paris Cannes

An Australian presence at the prestigious Cannes Film Festival hasn't exactly been loud and proud for many years now, although the occasional Samson & Delilah (un certain regard) and Bright Star (in competition) do surface to make local media take notice ever so briefly. So it's great news this year with four Australian productions screening at the festival, including in competition for the Palme d'Or!

Julia Leigh's "erotic fairy tale" Sleeping Beauty takes pole position amongst the Australian contingent having been given a competition slot despite being Leigh's first film as director. The screenplay, also by Leigh, is apparently a masterwork and was featured on the famed "Black List" in 2008 (alongside Easy A, Bad Teacher, Going the Distance, The Beaver and I'm with Cancer) so we could have a potential screenplay winner here? We'll certainly see, but the trailer (below) is a mixed bag. The idea of Jane Campion jumping on the "presented by" bandwagon that Quentin Tarantino and Eli Roth have been on for years is certainly exciting, but this sort of incredibly arch-looking arthouse to the extreme film can be hard to swallow. It reminds me a lot of Corroboree, which is not something I care to do very often. Sleeping Beauty stars Rachael Blake doing a knockout Charlotte Rampling impersonation, and Emily Browning. Surely it can already be considered more of a success than Sucker Punch, yes?

Sleeping Beauty from Pollen Digital on Vimeo.

Featuring in Un Certain Regard - the same platform that won Samson & Delilah the Camera d'Or for Warwick Thornton - will be Ivan Sen's Toomelah. I remember hearing this film announced at last year's MIFF screening of Sen's experimental Dreamland, but didn't expect it to arrive to quickly. Especially since Sen and his producing partner David Jowsey are still tinkering away at an official cut of Dreamland to be released in 2012. Toomelah is about a young Aboriginal boy who wants to be a gangster, and it stars all non-actors from the director's community. No trailer yet, but we'll bring it to you when it arrives!

Less exciting, however, is the inclusion of Justin Kurzel's Snowtown amongst the Director's Fortnight selections. Having seen it a couple of weeks back, I can't say I particularly enjoyed the experience. I'll surely have more to say closer to the release date, but I think it's one of the best made bad movies I've seen in quite a while. Wait, does that make sense? Yes. Yes it does.

Australian filmmakers have a strong history with short film success and this year Nash Edgerton will feature amongst Cannes' official short selections with Bear. The film, in which he stars, is Edgerton's followup to award-winning short Spider and his debut feature The Square. According to the press release Bear was co-written by Edgerton and David Michôd, who you will all know as the director of Animal Kingdom. Perhaps the rising profile of Blue Tongue Films, the production company behind Kingdom, The Square and more, gave it a leg up, but it's exciting nonetheless.

Stay tuned to the blog during the Cannes Film Festival to see how these films are being received by the press from France and around the world.

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