Whenever you read about Bruce Beresford being named as the director of an upcoming film, there's roughly a 50 per cent chance that he's actually involved.
The veteran director of Tender Mercies, Driving Miss Daisy and Mao's Last Dancer is often bemused to see his name linked to projects to which he was never attached, have since fallen over or where he's dropped out.
He is juggling several titles including The White Mouse, a biopic of Australian war hero Nancy Wake who died last week; US thriller Killer Instinct; and The House Gun, an adaptation of Nobel Prize-winning author Nadine Gordimer's novel, but reports of other mooted projects are inaccurate.
Example A: According to industry database IMDB.com, Beresford is listed as the director of Whisperings and Lies, a drama about the love triangle between Russian composer/pianist Sergei Rachmaninoff, his wife and his muse/singing protégé, to star Abbie Cornish. This 'news' was broken in January by several websites but the director says that's complete nonsense and he asked IMDB to remove the listing.
Example B: IMDB shows him as the director of Zebras, a film supposedly starring Ryan Kwanten, based on the true story of a music producer who discovers talented young soccer players in the ghettos of Soweto, South Africa, and forms a team named the Zebras, denoting the mix of black and white members. David Williamson did write the screenplay, which Beresford liked a lot and would have been happy to work on, but he says the producers failed to raise the money and he's moved on.
Example C: In April, Screen Australia announced it's funding the development of The Fortunes of Richard Mahoney, the saga of a restlessly romantic woman who marries a debonair doctor, naming him as the director. He told SBS Film he wrote two scripts – a feature and a TV miniseries – but “no one liked them,” he's no longer involved and he duly informed Screen Australia.
Producer Sue Milliken, who's working on that project with executive producers Zelda Rosenbaum and Oscar Whitbread, confirms a new script is being written by Chris Anastassiades and Andy Cox. And she says the executive producers still want Bruce to direct it.
Milliken and Peter Glover are producing The White Mouse, which will chronicle Wake's life from the age of 16 until 88 (she was 98 when she died). Beresford said he drew on Wake's autobiography, two biographies and his own research when he wrote the script. He thinks the role may require two actresses to span such a period. Milliken hopes Wake's passing will stimulate interest in her extraordinary story and she aims to start shooting in the second half of 2012, possibly as a co-production with France, where much of the narrative is set.
Killer Instinct is based on Joseph Finder's novel about a young sales executive who's befriended by a former Special Forces officer and discovers he's caught up in a deadly game. The producers are Los Angeles-based Chockstone Pictures' Steve Schwartz and Paula Mae Schwartz (who've just done Cogan's Trade, a crime caper starring Brad Pitt, James Gandolfini and Bella Heathcote, directed by Andrew Dominik) and Barbara De Fina.
The House Gun tells of a respected architect in post-apartheid South Africa whose son is accused of killing his housemate and is represented by a black lawyer. Pierce Brosnan has been offered the role of the architect and the director hopes to start filming in January.
Beresford has also agreed to direct Banjo & Matilda, a dramatisation of Banjo Paterson's Waltzing Matilda, which is being developed by producer Bill Leimbach and scripted by David Roach, reuniting after Beneath Hill 60.
His latest film, Peace, Love, & Misunderstanding, will have its world premiere next month at the Toronto International Film Festival. The dramedy stars Jane Fonda as a hippie, a throwback to the 1960s, who's estranged from her daughter (Catherine Keener), a conservative New York lawyer who's in the throes of a divorce.
The director relished the chance to work with Fonda, observing, “She's an old pro, a highly intelligent and entertaining woman. She's word perfect, she wanted to be directed, listening to everything I had to say, while investing herself in the role.”