Australian producers are tapping into international markets via Danish-based LevelK. 
12 Nov 2012 - 10:54 AM  UPDATED 27 Feb 2014 - 12:36 PM

UPDATED: Tine Klint lives in Copenhagen and has only visited Australia twice but she's emerged as an enthusiastic and influential supporter of Aussie cinema.

The owner of international sales agent LevelK Films, Klint agreed to handle Kieran Darcy-Smith's Wish You Were Here after meeting producer Angie Fielder at the Berlin festival in 2010. She read the script and made a deal a few months later at the Cannes festival.

Since then LevelK has signed on to represent Amiel Courtin-Wilson's Hail, Robert Connolly's The Turning, David Blake's The 25th Hour and Australian producers Brian Rosen and Su Armstrong's upcoming Canadian comedy 33 Liberty Lane.

Screen Australia has just confirmed LevelK is aboard My Mistress, first-time director Stephen Lance's drama about an innocent love affair between a vulnerable teenager and a French S&M mistress, scripted by Gerard Lee and produced by Leanne Tonkes.

Beyond that, Klint tells SBS Movies she expects to handle 5-10 Australian films in the next 12-18 months, most stemming from her participation in the Melbourne International Film Festival's global financing get-together 37ºSouth Market.

“I really respect the Australian film industry,” says Tine, a former head of international sales at Nordisk Film and head of business development at TrustNordisk, who founded LevelK in 2009. “I have had a really good experience with Australian producers. I really like the scripts I'm reading. I would like to handle many more Australian films.”

Given her high regard for Oz cinema, she finds it odd that “Australians don't often go to see their own films,” which she contrasts with Danish audiences' healthy appetite for Danish films. Last year homegrown films accounted for 27% of Denmark's box-office.

LevelK gives Australian producers another option for international sales in a field where Gary Hamilton's Arclight, XYZ Entertainment, Lightning, Entertainment eOne, London-based Bankside and HanWay have been among the most active players Klint sold Wish You Were Here to about 10 territories and aims to do more deals, particularly with the bigger European markets, after eOne launches the thriller in the US in early 2013, capitalising on actor Joel Edgerton's fast-rising global profile in The Great Gatsby, Zero Dark Thirty and The Odd Life of Timothy Green.

She met Courtin-Wilson at 37ºSouth and sparked to his docudrama as something that's “completely different and amazingly artistic”. Her strategy has been to give Hail exposure at numerous international festivals to increase awareness locally and thereafter to seek deals with Video-on-Demand and DVD distributors. It's already available on Facebook's new global VOD platform cinecliq.

Most Australian films are viewed as art house releases internationally, she says, and thus they face the same problem as smaller national films. “Distributors around the world that used to take risks and helped build new directors are now taking the high-end art house films with A-list casts which they believe have commercial potential,” she says. “There are few distributors left in each country that do handle small films and often they might play on just one screen.”

She's thrilled to be representing The Turning, a 17-part omnibus Australian film based on short stories by Tim Winton, which stars Cate Blanchett (who also makes her film directing debut), Hugo Weaving, Miranda Otto and Rose Byrne. The narrative consists of a series of linking and overlapping stories about the extraordinary turning points in ordinary people's lives set in a fictional Western Australian coastal town and spanning 30 years.

Blanchett will star in the short 'Reunion', which she created with her husband Andrew Upton and Simon Stone. Otto and Byrne will appear in the segment 'The Turning', directed by Claire McCarthy, and Weaving is in 'Commission', directed by David Wenham.

Producer Robert Connolly tells SBS Movies, “LevelK are highly regarded in the international market place, and responded immediately to The Turning. They have a terrific understanding of the changing theatrical landscape and the way to find a home for bold, innovative works of cinema.”

Klint plans to launch the film at a major international festival, probably Toronto or Venice in late 2013. “We have a lot of international distributors that are following the film and had some offers at the American Film Market that we are working on now,” she says. “The bigger countries don't pre-buy; they would need to see it.”

Through her relationship with Aquarius Films' Fielder, Tine secured sales rights to writer-director David Barker's The Second Coming, the saga of Joe Panther, a rebellious prophet who becomes the prime suspect in a murder investigation. Sam Reid (Hatfields & McCoys, The Railway Man) is in negotiations to play the lead with Sarah Snook (Not Suitable for Children) as a friend of Joe's. Due to shoot in Australia in early 2013, the film is based on a novel by Andrew Masterson.

LevelK has notched $700,000 in pre-sales to Canada and several other territories for 33 Liberty Lane, which will star Emily Watson, Sandra Oh, Melora Hardin and Nia Vardalos as down-on-their-luck women who turn to phone sex as a way to make a quick buck and enlist the help of a hooker. Shooting is set to start in Winnipeg in February, with Englishman Peter Hewitt (Garfield, The Maiden Heist) directing from a script by Canadian-born, Australian resident Stephen Ayres. Rosen and Armstrong's production banner Tree is co-producing with Phyllis Laing's Winnipeg-based Buffalo Gal Pictures.

Rosen and Armstrong came across Ayres' screenplay when it went through Aurora, Screen NSW's feature film development program, and sent it to London-based literary agent Jenne Casarotto, who recommended her client Hewitt.

“It's a very commercial project,” says Tine. “People need some laughs.”