Australian writer/director David Michôd speaks to Kylie Boltin from LosAngeles, as he digests the extraordinary success of his debut feature,Animal Kingdom.
1 Feb 2010 - 3:28 PM  UPDATED 6 Nov 2012 - 3:30 PM

David Michôd was in Los Angeles when the announcement was made that his debut feature Animal Kingdom, had won the World Cinema Jury Prize. “I had come back to LA from Sundance,” he says over the phone. “I caught wind of the fact that I might be about to win something. There were inclinations that the festival might like me to go back. I contemplated doing it but it would be a logistical nightmare. So I basically sat in LA, kicking myself for having left in the first place!”

Michôd says that the reception at Sundance before the win was “kind of extraordinary. It was unexpected. We had only recently finished the film [in November]. We knew the people we had showed it to had liked it, but I don't think we were at all prepared for just how well it was going to go down there. As soon as you get it in front of an audience you can just feel whether or not it works. You can feel the noises that people make. You can feel how much or how little they move while the movie is on and the level of their enthusiasm in terms of applause at the end.”

2010 marks the third consecutive festival that Michôd has screened a film at Sundance. He went in 2008 with his short, Crossbow but couldn't attend in 2009 when his next short Netherland Dwarf screened, as he was in production for Animal Kingdom but says that he “had a sniff. There's something so energetic and so real about Sundance. Even short filmmakers are made to feel that they've done something special by getting in. I just assumed that it was going to be like that times ten. And it was.”

Michôd has been riding a wave of momentum that started in the days leading up the world premiere of Animal Kingdom. In January he was named by Variety as one of their ten directors to watch. “You could just feel this snowball building. Now actually winning the festival — I don't think I could be better placed at this point in my career.” At this stage his career won't involve a permanent move to the United States. “I'm not going to immediately pack up my house and move to LA,” he says. “I love living in Australia and I can't wait to come home and jump in the ocean again.” At the same time, Michôd concedes that he loves “hanging out in L.A. I've got a lot of friends here. It's just fun being able to travel.”

Animal Kingdom opens theatrically in Australia on May 6. When I ask Michôd what we can expect from the film he says, “Hopefully what people will expect is a big, beautiful, dangerous crime story – that was what I set out to make. The response over here has seemed to suggest that all of us who made it got close to pulling it off.”

Watch the Animal Kingdom Trailer here