SA takes stage at Sundance Film Festival

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By Kaia Wallis

South Australia continues to prove its place in the international film industry, with four local movies heading to the United States’ largest independent film festival tomorrow (January 24).

SAFC (South Australian Film Corporation) has funded four of the six Australian films set to be screened at the 2019 Sundance Film Festival in Park City, Utah.

The unprecedented number of SA films at the festival marks another win for the state’s film industry after SA achieved a record share of national screen production expenditure in 2017/18.

Films I Am Mother, Top End Wedding and Animals will enjoy world premieres at Sundance. While The Nightingale will see its North American premiere after it took home Special Jury Prize at the 2018 Venice Film Festival.

The mother of I Am Mother.

“It’s thrilling that these four standout SAFC-funded films will be showcased at Sundance in 2019,” says SAFC CEO Courtney Gibson.

“Sundance is the first film festival out of the starting gate each year and the one that always breaks new ground and sets the pace in featuring visionary and radical screen storytelling.”

Sundance serves a vital role in introducing Australian creatives to the US market and has become a launching pad for Australian productions including horror flick Wolf Creek (2005), which was filmed partly in SA.

From the quintessentially Australian tale told in Top End Wedding to the dark science-fiction of I Am Mother, the four SA selected films touch on a variety of genres.

Adelaide born Sophie Hyde will return to the festival this year to screen Animals after taking home the award for Best Director in the World Cinema Dramatic category at the 2014 Sundance Film Festival. The movie, an Australian/Irish co-production, follows the journey of two best friends whose loyalty to each other becomes strained following an engagement.

“We couldn’t think of a better launchpad for this film than Sundance, so I am delighted to be returning with this fierce and beautiful story of friendship and competing desires,” says director Sophie Hyde.

Holliday Grainger and Alia Shawkat star in Animals.

Top End Wedding takes viewers through landscapes of Australia’s remote Far North as well as Adelaide suburbia, as main characters Lauren and her fiancé search for Lauren’s missing mother just days before their wedding.

Science-fiction thriller I Am Mother stars two-time Oscar winner Hilary Swank and was shot at Adelaide Studios in Adelaide’s east. Major investment for the film came from the SAFC in association with Adelaide Film Festival and Adelaide-based studio KOJO.

Set in 1820’s Tasmania The Nightingale follows a young female convict bent on revenge as she chases a British officer through the wilderness, enlisting the help of a stranger along the way. The Nightingale is director Jennifer Kent’s first feature film since The Babadook in 2014, a psychological thriller that was shot primarily in Adelaide.

Header Image: Miranda Tapsell as ‘Lauren’ in Top End Wedding.

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