Wayne Blair, Rachel Perkins, Greg McLean, Cameron and Colin Cairnes get green lights for new Australian films, including a new feature starring Kevin Bacon.

The directors of two of Australia’s biggest hits of the last five years, Rachel Perkins (Bran Nue Dae) and Wayne Blair (The Sapphires) have had new films financed in Screen Australia’s last funding round for the year.

Six films in all got a green light: another is Jungle from Wolf Creek director Greg McLean, who recently made his first US film, 6 Miranda Drive, and has cast Kevin Bacon in this cinematic recreation of the true story of Yossi Ghinsberg managing to survive in the Amazon rainforest.

Perkins will direct the adaptation of the extremely popular book Jasper Jones in Western Australia next year. No cast are yet attached to the coming-of-age murder mystery written by Shaun Grant who was thrust into the limelight when the film of his debut script Snowtown attracted so much attention.

Blair’s romantic comedy, Ali’s Wedding, is an autobiographical story for lead actor Osamah Sami, who also wrote the script with veteran Andrew Knight. Iranian-born Sami moved to Australia when he was 12 years old and is the son of a Melbourne Imam. His character in the film gets caught in a tangle of lies because where his heart leads him is littered with big obstacles.

The film is billed as an “affectionate and vivid portrait of Islamic life in Australia”, which makes it unusual in Australian cinema. Tony Ayres was originally going to direct and Blair has been making Septembers of Shiraz in Bulgaria. 

Australia rarely makes romantic comedies but cross-cultural versions of the romcom are in vogue right now with Peter Andrikidis currently in post on Alex And Eve, in which a Greek Orthodox man (played by Richard Brancatisano) falls for a Lebanese Muslim (Andrea Demetriades)and Anupam Sharma tomorrow wrapping up filming on Unindian, in which a successful Indian woman (Tannithsha Chatterjee) gets tangled up with a white bread Australian (Brett Lee – yes, the cricketer).

An inexplicable and chilling true crime that happened in Australia in 1997 is the basis of Joe Cinque’s Consolation, another of the films backed by Screen Australia. The title comes from Helen Garner, one of Australia’s most interesting non-fiction writers, who wrote a book trying to make sense of why Joe Cinque died at the hands of his girlfriend Anu Singh after the pair had held a dinner party at their Canberra home in which they told their guests of a suicide pact.

The film is to be directed by Sotiris Dounoukos, recent winner at the Toronto International Film Festival for his short film A Single Body. Producer Sue Murray told ScreenDaily she hopes to be in production in Canberra in April/May 2015. It will be her first film as a producer – she’s working alongside Donna Hensler – although she has a host of executive producer credits to her name including for Ten Canoes.

The brothers behind the horror film 100 Bloody Acres, Cameron and Colin Cairnes, and Martin Butler and Bentley Dean, who will be working from a John Collee script, will also be directing films as a result of decisions made by the Screen Australia board. In all the Federal Government agency decided to tip a total of US9.2m (A$10.7m) into 11 television and film projects, which will cost a total of US$50.5 (A$59m).


Matchbox Productions
Sheila Jayadev, Helen Panckhurst
Executive Producers Tony Ayres, Michael McMahon, Greg Sitch, Nina Stevenson
Director Wayne Blair
Writers Andrew Knight, Osamah Sami
Australian Distributor Madman Entertainment
International Sales Beta Cinema
Synopsis After a reckless lie sets off a catastrophic chain of events, Ali, the son of a Muslim cleric, finds himself caught between his sense of duty to his family and following his heart.


Porchlight Films and Bunya Productions
Vincent Sheehan, David Jowsey
Executive Producers Anita Sheehan, Colin McCumstie, Liz Watts, Rebecca O’Brien
Director Rachel Perkins
Writer Shaun Grant
Australian Distributor Madman Entertainment
International Sales Mongrel Media
Synopsis Jasper Jones is a coming-of-age murder mystery based on the best-selling Australian novel by Craig Silvey.


Fandango Australia
Sue Murray, Donna Hensler
Director Sotiris Dounoukos
Writers Matt Rubinstein, Sotiris Dounoukos
Australian Distributor Titan View
International Sales Urban Distribution International
Synopsis In early 1997, Anu Singh, a beautiful law student at the Australian National University, began to tell people she planned to kill herself. With doctors unable to help, Anu’s engineer boyfriend, Joe Cinque, attempts to get to the bottom of her condition. But as Anu’s mental and emotional state disintegrates, her plans grow more macabre and more public as she convinces fellow student Madhavi to help her. With Joe beginning to understand the true nature of their relationship, Anu starts talking of killing him as revenge for having made her ill. After an elaborate farewell dinner party attended by friends, Anu attempts to kill Joe but fails. She tries again and this time she succeeds, injecting Joe with a lethal dose of heroin. Nobody tried to stop her.


Arclight Films International Pty Ltd
Dana Lustig, Gary Hamilton, Mike Gabrawy, Mark Lazarus
Director Greg McLean
Writer Justin Monjo
Australian Distributor Umbrella Entertainment.
International Sales Arclight Films International
Cast Kevin Bacon
Synopsis Four travellers set off into the heart of the Amazon rainforest, but what begins as a dream adventure quickly deteriorates into an utter nightmare. After a terrible accident, Yossi is forced to survive for weeks alone against one of the most treacherous backdrops on the planet: the Amazon Jungle. Stranded without a knife, map or survival training, he must improvise shelter and forage to survive. After losing all sense of direction, Yossi begins to give up hope, wondering if he will even make it out of the jungle alive. Based on the real story of best-selling author Yossi Ghinsberg.


Cyan Films Pty Ltd
Julie Ryan
Executive Producer Jonathan Page, Roger Savage, Bryce Menzies
Writer/Directors Cameron Cairnes, Colin Cairnes
Australian Distributor Madman/Bonsai
International Sales Films Distribution
Synopsis Popular prank TV show, Scare Campaign, has been entertaining audiences for the last five years with its mix of old school scares and hidden camera fun. But as we enter a new age of online TV, the producers find themselves up against a new hard-edged web series which makes their show look decidedly quaint. It’s time to up the ante, but will the team go too far this time and are they about to prank the wrong guy?


Contact Films Pty Ltd
Martin Butler, Bentley Dean, Carolyn Johnson
Directors Bentley Dean, Martin Butler
Writers John Collee, Bentley Dean, Martin Butler
Cast Mari Matuwa, Mungow Waripe, Marcelline Kowia, Albi Nangia
Australian Distributor Umbrella Entertainment
Synopsis A groundbreaking glimpse into life, love, war and peace in one of the last tribal societies on earth.