Short Cuts: film news round-up
A scene from One Less GodThe Lego Movie, made in Sydney, has taken the world by storm.
Anna Broinowski is preparing to take her film Aim High In Creation to Paris and Melbourne Photo: Eddie Jim
The 2008 terrorist attacks in Mumbai have inspired a new Australian film that looks at the ”theatre of the mind” that plays out among travellers trapped in their hotel. First-time writer-director Lliam Worthington has been shooting the low-budget psychological thriller One Less God in the historic Carrington hotel in the Blue Mountains. ”It’s not a retelling,” Worthington tells Short Cuts. ”It’s inspired by. I’m not so much interested in the specifics of the terror that people experienced as opposed to what’s shared through terrorist events around the world. The film is more about the nature of belief.” An ensemble headed by Nathan Kaye (Muriel’s Wedding), Joseph Taylor (Mabo) and Kaliopi Eleni (Ten Empty) play international travellers and journalists as well as the terrorists. Worthington has been to Mumbai twice to research the attacks, which targeted the Taj Mahal and Oberoi Trident hotels and killed 164 people. He filmed the opening scenes at a Hindu festival in Nepal.Hey ho, Lego
As The Lego Movie continues its brilliant US opening – the Australian-shot animation has just cracked the $US200 million mark – The Wolf of Wall Street has continued its record-breaking run in Australian cinemas. Director Martin Scorsese’s raucous movie about a corrupt stockbroker became the country’s highest-grossing R-rated movie when it overtook the $12.7 million that Basic Instinct took in 1992 (in just two weeks). Last weekend Wolf reached $18.3 million and still had better average takings than than the three top new releases – the romantic-tinged Endless Love, Are We Officially Dating? and Winter’s Tale, which suggests sex, drugs and financial scamming were more popular than romance around Valentine’s Day this year.Broinowski aims high
As she prepares for the Melbourne opening, Anna Broinowski’s Aim High In Creation! has been selected for the Films de Femmes festival in Paris next month. “My second film, Sexing The Label, won best director there in 1998,” Broinowski says. “I’m delighted to return with another film about an underground – this time the hidden world of North Korean cinema.” The writer-director, who has also made Forbidden Lies and Helen’s War, will appear at a Q and A at Cinema Nova on March 19 before the release on March 27.Make like a Spartan
Distributor Roadshow has come up with an innovative promotion for 300: Rise of an Empire, the 300 sequel out on March 6. It has put together a training program so that participants can get “a true taste of what the cast went through when preparing for their roles”. The 10-day training program includes a leaderboard for participants around the country, how-to exercise videos, nutrition advice and a final “Warrior Test” that involves “100 dreaded burpees in the fastest time possible”. Short Cuts hopes that any participants who fall short will get the same advantage from stuntmen and digital effects as the actors.Funding tales
There is no shortage of filmmakers trying to crowdfund their projects. The producers of Broke, which is described as an inspirational drama starring Steve Bisley, Steve Le Marquand and Claire van der Boom about a rugby league star with a gambling addiction, have clocked up $34,000 of their $55,000 target with 20 days to go. But producer Jim McElroy has cancelled his crowdfunding campaign for the David Williamson-penned, Bruce Beresford-directed Zebras, about a multiracial soccer team that triumphs in apartheid-era South Africa, after raising just $22,000 of the $900,000 target. ”Although we have not been able to reach enough people on our Kickstarter campaign, the presentation resulted in other opportunities arising,” McElroy told his backers.Oscar buzz
While all the talk has been about Cate Blanchett’s chances, Catherine Martin’s BAFTA wins this week for best costumes and best production design with Beverley Dunn, confirms their strong Oscar prospects. They beat their key rivals at the Academy Awards – fellow Australian costume designer Michael Wilkinson for American Hustle and the production design teams for American Hustle, Gravity and 12 Years a Slave. On the popular Gold Derby awards website, 18 of 27 experts are predicting that Martin and Dunn will win the production design Oscar on March 2. An overwhelming 22 predict Martin will win best costumes as well.Tuesday call
After winning prizes at the Sundance and Berlin film festivals in the past month, the inventive Australian drama 52 Tuesdays will open in cinemas on May 1. Director Sophie Hyde’s film about a schoolgirl whose mother sets out to become a man has also sold to the US, Benelux territories, Switzerland and Hong Kong. ”It does feel quite incredible getting awards and that is heightened a huge amount when it’s for a film that was hard to make and, yes, quite risky,” Hyde tells Short Cuts from Paris. ”There were moments making it when I really didn’t feel it was working.” The film was shot over 52 consecutive Tuesdays with non-professional actors Del Herbert-Jane, who was going through gender transition at the time, and teenager Tilda Cobham-Hervey. Next up, 52 Tuesdays screens at the Melbourne Queer Film Festival on March 18.Building an audience for SFF
Nearby construction will again disrupt daytime sessions at the State Theatre during the Sydney Film Festival, which runs from June 4 to 15. After two years of work on the QT hotel next to the theatre, construction is still underway at the former Mick Simmons building behind it, which means daytime sessions during the week will be at the Event George Street for an unexpected fourth year. ‘‘We’ll be back with a full program in 2015,’’ says festival general manager Leigh Small. Subscription renewals are open until February 28, with prices remaining stable at $225 to $325 for 12 days of screenings. Sales for new subscribers open on March 10.Utopia now!
The always provocative John Pilger will appear at a Q&A session for his latest documentary, Utopia, at Dendy Newtown on February 27. A portrait of disdavantage in remote Aboriginal Australia, it is described as “an epic portrayal of the oldest continuous human culture and an investigation into a suppressed colonial past and rapacious present”. Pilger considers it an urgent film. “I felt that, when the so-called intervention happened in 2007, it required a documentary response and in part that is what Utopia is,” he says.
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