Guy Pearce (Memento) will play a troubled police officer in Animal Kingdom, written and to be directed by short filmmaker and former Australian film magazine editor David Michod.

Ben Mendelsohn, Joel Edgerton and Jackie Weaver are also on board the debut drama which goes into production for Australian distributor Madman and international sales agent Maximum early next year. Liz Watts is producing under her Sydney production company banner, Porchlight Films.

The film's key character of a 17-year-old youth from an explosive criminal family has not yet been cast.

Michod's previous short film, Crossbow, had a dream run on the international festival circuit this year and last, playing at Venice, Sundance and others.

Screen Australia decided to invest in production in Animal Kingdom at a board meeting yesterday. It also gave a 'letter of intent', which equates to conditional approval, to three other feature films. Being Dead is the most notable, given the success that director Ray Lawrence had on Lantana. His new film is adapted from Jim Crace's novel by Beatrix Christian, with whom he worked on Jindabyne.

The films with a letter of intent are:


Big and Little Films

Producers: Helen Bowden, Michael McMahon, Tony Ayres. Producer/writer/director: Belinda Chayko.

Synopsis: A young girl finds love through a dangerous game with her Alzheimic grandfather.


See-Saw Films and Greenpoint Films

Executive producer: Iain Canning. Producers: Emile Sherman, Patrick Cassavetti. Director: Ray Lawrence. Writer: Beatrix Christian, from the book by Jim Crace.

Synopsis: A married couple is savagely murdered and their bodies left to decay in the dunes. When their estranged daughter returns home to find them, she uncovers a dark secret history.


I Love You Too Pty Ltd

Executive producer: Greg Sitch. Producers: Yael Bergman, Laura Waters. Writer/co-producer: Peter Hellier. Director: Daina Reid

Synopsis: Jim breaks up with his girlfriend when she mentions the word 'marriage'. Depressed, Jim meets Charlie, a dwarf, who is wise, funny, emotionally mature and an incredible love letter writer, and asks him to help him get Alice back.