The A-list actress set to return for outback drama, in one of six new local features in the works.
By
SBS Film

21 Oct 2013 - 10:49 AM  UPDATED 21 Oct 2013 - 10:49 AM

Six new local features are in the works, including one that will bring Nicole Kidman back to star in Strangerland, as a traumatised mother searching for her lost teens in the outback.

Kidman (pictured, in 2010's Rabbit Hole) will star alongside Guy Pearce and Hugo Weaving in Strangerland. The film is the first for director Kim Farrant, making a very high profile foray into feature filmmaking after building her career directing episodic TV (Network Ten's Rush).

Also in the works is a new feature from Jeremy Sims (Beneath Hill 60, Last Train to Freo), who will helm the road movie Last Cab To Darwin. Adapted from the stage play Sims wrote with Reg Cribbs, it tells the story of a dying man embarking on a cross-country trip from Broken Hill to Darwin, with the intention of dying on his own terms.

Director Paul Cox continues to defy his spate of ill health and will return to the director's chair to oversee Force of Destiny, a story loosely inspired by his own battles, about a man who finds love in the midst of cancer treatment.

Mark Grentell is set to make his feature film directorial debut with his own script for a cricket-themed comedy drama Backyard Ashes, about an Australian and a Brit who seek to settle their ongoing rivalry in the cricketing challenge of the century.

The two other projects which received Screen Australia funding are: Gillian Armstrong's documentary about legendary costume designer Orry Kelly, Women He's Undressed (first announced here); and a 3D animated children's feature, Maya the Bee Movie, a 3D animation feature film co-produced with German filmmakers, and adapted from a series of young children's books about a little bee with a big personality.

Full details of the films greenlit appear below, as provided by Screen Australia.

BACKYARD ASHES
Crow Crow Productions
Producers Anne Robinson, Mark Grentell, Peter Cox
Writers Mark Grentell, Peter Cox
Director Mark Grentell
International Sales Level K
Australian Distributor Umbrella Entertainment
Synopsis Aussie versus Pom rivalry peaks when Dougie and Edward fight it out in the cricketing challenge of the century... the 'Backyard Ashes'.

FORCE OF DESTINY
Paul's Next Feature Pty Ltd
Producers Mark Patterson, Maggie Miles, Paul Cox
Writer Paul Cox
Director Paul Cox
International Sales Arrow Entertainment
Australian Distributor CinemaPlus
Synopsis Established artist Robert is told he has cancer of the liver and limited time to live... And so begins a love story. Another screen gem from veteran director Paul Cox, invested with the poignancy of an almost-true story.

LAST CAB TO DARWIN
Hydra Hamlet Pty Ltd
Producers Greg Duffy, Lisa Duff, Jeremy Sims
Executive Producers Ned Lander, Edward Simpson, Ian Darling, Mark Nelson, Andrew Myer, Jon Adgemis
Writer Reg Cribb
Director Jeremy Sims
International Sales Films Boutique/Films Distribution
Australian Distributor Icon Film Distribution
Synopsis Rex is a loner, and when he's told he doesn't have long to live, he embarks on an epic drive from Broken Hill to Darwin to die on his own terms; but his journey reveals to him that before you can end your life you have to live it, and to live it, you've got to share it.

MAYA THE BEE MOVIE
Official Germany–Australia Co-production
Buzz Studios Pty Ltd in association with Flying Bark Productions
Producer Barbara Stephen
Executive Producer Jim Ballantine
Writer Fin Edquist
Director Alexs Stadermann
International Sales Wavery Productions BV
Australian Distributor Buzz Studios/Hoyts Jnr.
Synopsis Maya is a little bee with a big personality. But in a hive where fitting in is the most important thing, being different isn't easy.

STRANGERLAND
Dragonfly Pictures Pty Ltd and Fastnet Films
Gap funding Worldview Entertainment
Producers Naomi Wenck, Macdara Kelleher
Executive Producers Christopher Woodrow, Molly Conners, Maria Cestone, Sarah E. Johnson, Andrew Mackie, Richard Payten
Writers Fiona Seres, Michael Kinirons
Director Kim Farrant
Cast Nicole Kidman, Guy Pearce, Hugo Weaving
International Sales Wild Bunch
Australian Distributor Transmission
Synopsis When Catherine and Matthew Parker's two teenage children disappear into the remote Australian desert, their relationship is pushed to the brink as they confront the mystery of their children's fate.

WOMEN HE'S UNDRESSED
Damien Parer Productions Pty Ltd
Producer Damien Parer
Executive Producer Michael Wrenn
Director Gillian Armstrong
Writer Katherine Thomson
International Sales Hollywood Classics
Australian Distributor Rialto Films, Pay TV Rights – Foxtel Broadcasting
Synopsis Orry-Kelly designed costumes for Marilyn Monroe, Jane Fonda, Bette Davis and Ava Gardner during the boom years of Hollywood. His films included Some Like It Hot, Casablanca, Now Voyager and Oklahoma. This feature-length documentary celebrates the colourful life of Australia's greatest Oscar® winner