The 33rd Sundance Festival’s first announcements have just come through and Australia figures strongly in the World Competition programmes.
We’ve all been awaiting news of Berlin Syndrome directed by Cate Shortland (Lore, Somersault, both streaming at SBS On Demand), which premieres in the World Dramatic competition. Adapted for the big screen by Shaun Grant (Snowtown, also available on SBS), the film is based on Melanie Joosten’s novel and stars Teresa Palmer, who has just been nominated for a 2017 AACTA for Hacksaw Ridge. She plays an Aussie photographer who travels to Berlin and meets a charismatic local played by Max Riemelt from TV’s Sense8. The film will be distributed by eOne next year.
The U.S.-Australia documentary Casting JonBenet directed by Australia’s Kitty Green (Ukraine is not A Brothel) is among 16 world premieres in the World Documentary Competition. Billed as “a sly and stylised exploration of the world's most sensational child-murder case,” the part documentary, part narrative feature follows the unsolved death of six-year-old American beauty queen, JonBenet.
Two gorgeous Aussie women feature in films in the US Dramatic Competition. Emily Browning toplines Golden Exits directed and written by Alex Ross Perry (Listen Up Philip, Queen of Earth) and co-starring Adam Horovitz, Chloë Sevigny, Marie-Louise Parker and Jason Schwartzman. The film follows the arrival of a young foreign girl who disrupts the lives and emotional balance of two Brooklyn families.
Meanwhile Toni Collette has a major supporting role as the mother of Alden Ehrenreich (the new Hans Solo) in The Yellow Birds based on the hit debut novel by American writer, poet, and Iraq war veteran Kevin Powers. Directed by Alexandre Moors and based on a script by David Lowery (Pete’s Dragon, Ain’t Them Bodies Saints), the film follows two young soldiers who are deployed to fight in the Gulf War. After an unthinkable tragedy, Ehrenreich’s surviving soldier struggles to balance his promise of silence with the truth and a mourning mother’s (Jennifer Aniston’s) search for peace.
New Zealander Melanie Lynskey, who this year won Sundance’s best actress award for The Intervention, stars alongside that Kiwi-loving former hobbit Elijah Wood in another US competition drama, I Don't Feel at Home in This World Anymore. The directing debut of actor Macon Blair (Green Room, Blue Ruin) it follows a depressed woman who is burglarized, and finds a new sense of purpose by tracking down the thieves, alongside her obnoxious neighbour.
The documentary Chasing Coral should also be of interest to Australian audiences. Part of a special New Climate program, the film is directed by Jeff Orlowski (Chasing Ice) and follows a team of divers, photographers and scientists who set out on an ocean adventure to discover why the coral is disappearing and to reveal the underwater mystery to the world.