Australian films are well represented at the two major international film festivals on the horizon, Toronto and Venice, with Sue Brooks' outback runaway story, Looking For Grace, in particular, set to premiere in competition at both.
The film is one of 12 to feature in the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF)'s new Platform competition, a side bar that has been established to showcase 'artistically ambitious international films'. The jury - made up of filmmakers Jia Zhang-ke, Claire Denis and Agnieszka Holland - will award the CAD25,000 prize.
"Inspired by the Jia Zhang-ke film, Platform will showcase films made in the spirit of true directors' cinema: free, daring and transformative," Cameron Bailey, Artistic Director of the Toronto International Film Festival said when the new competition was announced in May.
The placement in the new TIFF category follows the inclusion of Sue Brooks' Looking for Grace in official competition at the Venice Film Festival, which will be its world premiere.
TIFF will also feature gala presentations of Jocelyn Moorhouse's The Dressmaker and Australian director Wayne Blair's US film Septembers of Shiraz, as well as a special presentation of Simon Stone's The Daughter.
At the Venice Film Festival, Looking for Grace in the official competition joins Australian films Tanna, The Daughter and Early Winter which will screen in the side bar events 'Venice Days' and 'Venice Critics' Week'.
Looking for Grace
Director Sue Brooks, who also wrote the screenplay, will be the first Australian woman director in 15 years to have a film to compete for the Venice Film Festival's prestigious Golden Lion (Clara Law's The Goddess of 1967 screened in 2000). Brooks told SBS Movies she's "breathtakingly excited" by the news:
"Statistically you’ve just got to say it’s just that much tougher for women full stop, because we just don’t seem to be able to get our fair share of representation of the films that get made. And then to be able to get one made eventually, with a lot of tenacity from the producers I have to say - and then to be able to get it through to being accepted in Venice is pretty exciting.”
"You’ve just got to say it’s just that much tougher for women."
Of the selection for TIFF's inaugural Platform, she says, "it's sort of amazing because it’s the wonderful program that they’ve set up in the first place, and because it’s the first year nobody really knows how it’s going to run or what it’s going to be like.”
Looking for Grace stars Richard Roxburgh and Radha Mitchell as parents who set out across the Western Australian wheatbelt searching for their 16-year-old daughter, played by Odessa Young (who is also in The Daughter) who has run away from home with a friend, bussing across the landscape to see a favourite band.
The film also stars Terry Norris (The Dressmaker), and is produced by Lizzette Atkins, Sue Taylor and Alison Tilson.
“It could have started anywhere but it started with Grace running away from home. And then after that there are a number of people who are looking for her and their own stories get revealed in the process of telling the stories,” Brooks says.
Brooks sees the landscape as being an important part of this film, but in a different way to the role it played in her highly acclaimed 2003 film Japanese Story.
“I think Japanese Story was much more of an awe-inspiring landscape, it was bigger than life... But this is more how we live in the landscape, in Looking for Grace. It’s there, it’s stark, it’s beautiful, but it’s not threatening.”
Looking for Grace will open in Australian cinemas on January 26, 2016.
In the last days of a dying logging town, Christian returns to his family home for his father Henry’s wedding. While home, Christian reconnects with his childhood friend Oliver, who has stayed in town working at Henry’s timber mill and is now out of a job. As Christian gets to know Oliver’s wife Charlotte, daughter Hedvig, and father Walter, he discovers a secret that could tear Oliver’s family apart.
Films in official competition at Venice Film Festival (September 2-12)
Frenzy, Emin Alper (Turkey, France, Qatar)
Heart of a Dog, Laurie Anderson (US)
Blood of My Blood, Marco Bellocchio (Italy)
Looking for Grace, Sue Brooks (Australia)
Equals, Drake Doremus (US)
Remember, Atom Egoyan (Canada, Germany)
Beasts of No Nation, Cary Fukunaga (US)
Per amor vostro, Giuseppe M. Gaudino (Italy, France)
Marguerite," Xavier Giannoli (France, Czech Republic, Belgium)
Rabin, the Last Day," Amos Gitai (Isreal, France)
A Bigger Splash, Luca Guadagnino (Italy, France)
The Endless River, Oliver Hermanus (South Africa, France)
The Danish Girl, Tom Hooper (UK, US)
Anomalisa, Charlie Kaufman, Duke Johnson (US)
L'attesa, Piero Messina (Italy)
11 minutes, Jerzy Skolimowski (Poland)
Francofonia, Aleksander Sokurov (France, Germany, Netherlands)
The Clan, Pablo Trapero (Argentina, Spain)
Desde alla, Lorenzo Vigas (Venezuela, Mexico)
L'hermine, Christian Vincent (France)
Behemoth, Zhao Liang (China, France)
Films in the inaugural Platform program at Toronto Film Festival (September 10-20)
Bang Gang (A Modern Love Story), Eva Husson, France (world premiere)
The Clan, Pablo Trapero, Argentina/Spain (North American premiere)
French Blood, Diastème, France (international premiere)
Full Contact, David Verbeek, Netherlands/Croatia (world premiere)
High-Rise, Ben Wheatley, United Kingdom (world premiere)
HURT, Alan Zweig, Canada (world premiere)
Land of Mine, Martin Zandvliet, Denmark/Germany (world premiere)
Looking for Grace, Sue Brooks, Australia (North American premiere)
Neon Bull, Gabriel Mascaro, Brazil/Uruguay/Netherlands (North American premiere)
The Promised Land, He Ping, China (world premiere)
Sky, Fabienne Berthaud, France/Germany (world premiere)
The White Knights, Joachim Lafosse, France/Belgium (world premiere)