What a year 2015 was for Australian cinema. Box office records were smashed thanks to Mad Max: Fury Road, George Miller’s contemporary interpretation of his 1979 classic, and Jocelyn Moorhouse’s The Dressmaker. Each film was headlined by international heavyweights including Tom Hardy, Charlize Theron and Kate Winslet respectively.
It was a massive year for indi-filmaking in Australia too and that’s what the Cinema Australia team is most proud of. We watched from the front row as director Nicole Ma and her collaborators collected the $100,000 CinéfestOz Film Prize – one of Australian cinema’s most prestigious awards – for their passionately raw documentary Putuparri and the Rainmakers. What a true feat for our industry. They were up against worthy contenders including Simon Stone’s The Daughter and Paul Ireland’s incredible Pawno.
But that was last year, and from the look of things this year is going to be even better. It took us a long, long time to put this list of films together. This isn’t a list of films we’re anticipating will be the best or the biggest earners. This is a list of films we want to see the most because we’ve been convinced we must through impressive trailers, strong social media campaigns and great track records.
It’s worth noting that Cinema Australia has no commercial agreement with any of these films. We’re an independently owned, non-profit online space and we get bloody excited about Australian movies. All films are listed alphabetically.
Update: We copped a fair floggin’ by some readers for not including the writers of each film (even though they were all written by each film’s director – excluding Jasper Jones. Writers have now been credited.
An interstellar Jekyll and Hyde, Arrowhead tells the tale of survival set amongst the distant stars. Kye is a prisoner of war caught between two armies that he doesn’t believe in. When offered an opportunity for freedom, Kye sets out on one last rescue mission only to become stranded when his ship crash lands. Kye soon realises that the deadliest creature on the desert moon is himself.
Written & Directed by Jesse O’Brien
Starring Dan Mor, Aleisha Rose Groth, Mark Redpath and Shaun Micallef as the voice of RE3F.
Why we’re excited: We’ve been excited for Arrowhead since the first screenshot was released, not to mention that glorious one sheet. The SFX look world-class which is becoming quite a trend for small Aussie films. When the trailer was released we knew it wouldn’t take long for Arrowhead to start making some noise and that noise couldn’t be any louder than winning best picture at the 2015 SciFi Film Festival – the screening was the film’s world premiere.
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A disgraced sports star and gambling addict attempts to turn his life around with the support of his number one fan.
Written & Directed by Heath Davis
Starring Steve Le Marquand, Max Cullen, Claire van der Boom, Steve Bastoni, Brendan Cowell, Damian Hill, William Zappa and Justin Rosniak
Why we’re excited: Earlier in the year we received a phone call from producer Luke Graham offering Cinema Australia readers an exclusive first look at Broke. We knew you’d be excited and we weren’t wrong – it was one of the highest read posts of the year. Steve Le Marquand is one of our favourite actors and we can’t wait to see him headline his own film. His supporting cast is a filmmaker’s dream.
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The Burning Kiss
The Burning Kiss is an upcoming Australian summer noir blending together a thrilling cocktail of southern gothic, surrealism, pop art and the nouvelle vague.
Written & Directed by Robbie Studsor
Starring Liam Graham, Alyson Walker, Richard Mellick and Christie Sistrunk
Why we’re excited: We love filmmakers who are willing to think outside the box, take risks, be bold, brave and give it their all and going by the three teaser trailers for WA-made The Burning Kiss,director Robbie Studsor has achieved all of the above. WA provides filmmakers with stunning, natural landscapes and we can’t wait to see them on the big screen here.
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Crushed is the story of a young woman who returns home to her family vineyard after her father dies in an accident on the winery. But when his death is ruled a murder and her mother becomes the prime suspect she must uncover the truth.
Written & Directed by Megan Riakos
Starring Sarah Bishop, Les Hill, Roxane Wilson, Millie Spencer Brown, Remy Brand, Robert Preston, Aaron Glenane, Jamie Irvine, Helmut Bakaitis, Patrick Connolly and Benjamin Mathews
Why we’re excited: Director Megan Riakos is a filmmaker we’re expecting to have a very long and successful career. The Crushed trailer is a fine drop and we can’t wait to see Les Hill (a Cinema Australia favourite) flex his acting chops in an Aussie mystery-thriller. Without getting too political, women filmmakers are at the top of their game in Australia turning out some incredible pieces like The Babadook (Jennifer Kent) and Strangerland (Kim Farrant) to name a few. It’s worth noting that Crushed is one of two films in this list directed by a female. #morewomeninfilmplease.
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A black comedy set during the aftermath of the Cronulla riots, Down Under is the story of two carloads of hotheads from both sides of the fight destined to collide. Sincere, though misguided, intent gives way to farcical ineptitude as this hilarious yet poignant story of ignorance, fear and kebab-cravings unfolds, and what was meant to be a retaliation mission turns into something neither side could have imagined.
Written & Directed by Abe Forsythe
Starring Lincoln Younes, Rahel Romahn, Damon Herriman, Michael Denkha, Fayssal Bazzi, Alexander England, Justin Rosniak, Harriet Dyer, Christopher Bunton, Josh McConville, Dylan Young, Christiaan Van Vuuren, Anthony Taufa, Marshall Napier and David Field
Why we’re excited: It’s been 13 years since Abe Forsythe made his directorial debut with his hilariously immature Ned and we couldn’t be any more excited for Down Under. Every year since Ned we’ve wondered what Abe Forsythe will do next and Down Under looks like it’ll be a worthy follow-up. If this is as half as funny as Ned, then we’re all in for a treat.
James has served time for drowning a little boy when he was a child, although the body was never found in the river. A visit from his victim’s mother upon parole sends him on a quest to find the truth. With little time and danger at every turn, James risks his freedom and his life to uncover the trail of sins that might give closure to the grieving mother.
Written & Directed by Grant Scicluna
Starring Reef Ireland, Kerry Fox, Robert Taylor, Thom Green, Charles Grounds, Lester Ellis Jr and Helen Morse
Why we’re excited: The trailer itself is an intense mini-masterpiece. Downriver has been making waves as it travels up the festival stream and from what we’re hearing, Reef Ireland is an actor to keep your eye on. The always brilliant Kerry Fox is sure to bring unmatched experience and director Grant Sciclun’s past success with short films will no-doubt translate into an audience and critic favourite of 2016.
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Charlie Bucktin is surprised to see the rebellious aboriginal boy Jasper Jones outside his window late at night asking for his help. Together they walk through the quiet town of Corrigan in Australia into the dense forest where Jasper leads Charlie to a glade. It is here they discover that a terrible crime has happened and the two work together to solve the mystery and make things right in this frightened town whilst uncovering more than just the truth.
Directed by Rachel Perkins
Written by Shaun Grant, Craig Silvey (Story)
Starring Toni Collette, Levi Miller, Hugo Weaving, Matt Nable, Angourie Rice, Myles Pollard, Dan Wyllie, Aaron L. McGrath, Susan Prior, Wilson Moore, Ferdinand Hoang and Cooper van Grootel
Why we’re excited: Cinema Australia is based in Fremantle, Western Australia. Jasper Jones scribe Craig Silvey is from Fremantle, Western Australia. You can imagine how excited we are to see this critically acclaimed novel come to life on the big screen. It’s brimming with local and national talent too including Matt Nable who gets better with every film. We really hope Hugo doesn’t play Hugo like he does in most films and follows up his outstanding performance in The Dressmaker with another beauty.
The Legend of Ben Hall
Ben Hall makes plans to escape NSW before the law catches up with him – however he is betrayed by a trusted friend and sold out to the NSW police, who ambush his camp and assassinate him.
Written & Directed by Matthew Holmes
Starring Jack Martin, Jamie Coffa, William Lee, Callan McAuliffe, Joanne Dobbin, Lauren Grimson, Adam Willson, Jordan Fraser-Trumble, Gregory Quinn, PiaGrace Moon, Lauren Gregory, Andy McPhee, Arthur Angel, John Orcsik, Micheal Resce, Angus Pilakui, Peter Flaherty
Why we’re excited: The team behind The Legend of Ben Hall, a true story about the legendary Australian bush ranger, have been running the most solid social media campaign we’ve ever seen for an Australian film. Filmmakers and their PR teams should be looking at it and learning from it because it really is top-notch. From a concept short to cast announcements, first-look screenshots, early merchandise and a terrific teaser the campaign has been world class all the way. The Legend of Ben Hall is, above all, the film we’re most excited to see in 2016.
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Popular prank TV show, Scare Campaign, has been entertaining audiences for the last five years with its mix of old school scares and hidden camera fun. But as we enter a new age of online TV the producers find themselves up against a new hard edged web series which makes their show look decidedly quaint. It’s time to up the ante, but will the team go too far this time, and are they about to prank the wrong guy?
Written & Directed by Cameron Cairnes, Colin Cairnes
Starring Meegan Warner, Ian Meadows, Olivia DeJonge, Josh Quong Tart, Patrick Harvey, Cassandra Magrath, Steve Mouzakis, John Brumpton, Jason Geary, Sigrid Thornton and Kaiting Yap
Why we’re excited: “Do you like horror movies, Abby?” “Fuck yeah. Who doesn’t?” The violent and brutal 15 second teaser trailer for Scare Campaign shows once again that the Cairnes brothers don’t hold back when it comes to blood and gore and we love a good Aussie horror. The brothers proved they know how to do horror right with their feature film debut, 100 Bloody Acres and it looks like it’ll be two hits in a row for the Aussie horror kings.
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