Candy director Neil Armfield will adapt gay memoir Holding The Man, one of five projects backed in Screen Australia’s latest funding round.

Screen Australia will invest in Holding The Man, an adaptation of a popular gay memoir from director Neil Armfield (Candy), and A Long Way Home, from Garth Davis, Jane Campion’s co-director on the series Top Of The Lake.

The government agency also decided this week to put finishing funds into Infini, a follow-up to debut film Gabriel for writer/director/producer Shane Abbess, and into two feature-length documentaries.

“It is ultimately a love story about gay soulmates and we haven’t seen much of that in cinema,” Holding The Man producer Kylie du Fresne (The Sapphires) told ScreenDaily. “We think it’s good timing because of the worldwide debate on gay marriage. It’s not what the film is about but it is part of why Tim (Conigrave) wrote his memoir.”

That memoir was the basis of a stage play that has been widely performed abroad and in Australia - including at Sydney’s Belvoir Street Theatre when Armfield was the artistic director there. The writer of the play, Tommy Murphy, has also written the film.

Production is likely to take place mid-year in Sydney, Melbourne and the Italian island of Lipari, where the film is set. Du Fresne would not discuss who is in mind for the two lovers, who meet at the age of 16.

“The story crosses through three decades - the ’70s, ’80s and ’90s - and we have the ability to have a lot of fun with the soundtrack,” said du Fresne, a partner in Goalpost Pictures, which is affiliated to the film’s London-based sales agent.

Transmission will be handling this film in Australia and also The Long Way Home, an adaptation of Saroo Brierley’s autobiography that will be sold internationally by Cross City Sales.

Saroo was separated from his mother in India at the age of five, adopted by a family in Australia, but tracked his mother down nearly 30 years later using internet-based technology. This story also hit the headlines worldwide because of technology.

Angie Fielder, who oversaw the production of Wish You Were Here in Cambodia, is producing alongside Sydney-based Emile Sherman and London-based Iain Canning, who made The King’s Speech.

There is only one more feature film funding round before June 30. Investment in all five films amounts to US$4m (A$4.3m)

More details about the projects, provided by Screen Australia:


Prod co See-Saw Films, Sunstar Entertainment. Prods Emile Sherman, Iain Canning, Angie Fielder.
Exec prods Andrew Fraser, Shahen Mekertichian, Andrew Mackie, Richard Payten.
Writer Luke Davies.
Director Garth Davis.
Australian distrib Transmission Films.
International sales Cross City Sales.
A wrong train takes a five-year-old Indian boy thousands of kilometres from home and family. He survives many challenges before being adopted by an Australian couple. Twenty-five years later, armed with only the scantest of clues, he learns of a new technology called Google Earth and sets out to find his lost family.


Goalpost Pictures, HTM Productions.
Prods Kylie du Fresne.
Exec Prods Rosemary Blight, Ben Grant, Cameron Huang, Tristan Whalley.
Writer Tommy Murphy.
Director Neil Armfield.
Australian distrib Transmission.
International sales Goalpost Film UK.
There was Romeo and Juliet and then there was Tim and John (Tim Conigrave and John Caleo). The course of teenage love rarely runs smooth, but if you find yourself gay in an Aussie all-male school in the 1970s and you’re entranced by the captain of the football team, life’s a thrill ride. A remarkable true-life love story.


Infini Movie.
Producers Mat Graham, Shane Abbess, Brett Thornquest, Sidonie Abbene.
Exec prods Steven Matusko, Brian Cachia.
Writer/director Shane Abbess.
Australian distrib Entertainment One Films Australia.
International sales Kathy Morgan International.
A futuristic search and rescue team transport onto mining station INFINI to save Whit Carmichael - lone survivor of a freak accident - before quarantining a lethal biological weapon set to arrive back on earth within the hour.


Madman Production Company. Prods Nick Batzias, Rory Williamson.
Executive prod Paul Wiegard.
Director Damon Gameau.
Australian distrib Madman Entertainment.
International sales Metro International Entertainment.
An engaging and saccharine ride exploring what really happens when a spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down.


Wildflower Films, Ralf Films.
Prod Nicole O’Donohue.
Exec prod Julia Overton, Mel Flanagan, Thomas Mai.
Director Gracie Otto.
Australian distrib Umbrella Entertainment. International sales Dogwoof.
Cast Yoko Ono, John Cleese, Kate Moss, Naomi Watts, Anna Wintour, Barry Humphries, Greta Scacchi, Brian Thompson, Jim Sharman.
Michael White might just be the most famous person you’ve never heard of. A notorious London theatre and film impresario, playboy, gambler, bon vivant and friend of the rich and famous, he is now in his eighties and still enjoys partying like there’s no tomorrow.