2019 is set to be a huge year for Australian cinema with so many great films set for release. Here’s nine films sitting high on our must-see list for the year.
It should be noted that our list from last year featured a bunch of films that weren’t released including The Nightingale, Little Monsters and Akoni. We’re still just as excited to see those films but have not included them here.
Here’s to discovering something new in 2019.
Directed by Kriv Stenders
Written by Stuart Beattie
Produced by Martin Walsh, John Schwarz, Michael Schwarz, Stuart Beattie and Tony H. Noun
Starring Travis Fimmel, Luke Bracey, Richard Roxburgh, Nicolas Hamilton, Daniel Webber, Stephen Peacocke, Myles Pollard, Uli Latukefu, Lincoln Lewis, Anthony Hayes and Travis Jeffery
What it’s about: Late afternoon August 18, 1966 South Vietnam – for three and a half hours, in the pouring rain, amid the mud and shattered trees of a rubber plantation called Long Tan, Major Harry Smith and his dispersed company of 108 young and mostly inexperienced Australian and New Zealand soldiers are fighting for their lives, holding off an overwhelming enemy force of 2,500 battle hardened Viet Cong and North Vietnamese soldiers. With their ammunition running out, their casualties mounting and the enemy massing for a final assault, each man begins to search for the strength to triumph over an uncertain future with honour, decency and courage.The Battle of Long Tan is one of the most savage and decisive engagements in Australian military history, earning both the United States and South Vietnamese Presidential Unit Citations for gallantry along with many individual awards. 18 Australians and more than 500 enemy were killed.
Why we’re excited: There’s no denying that Kriv Stenders is one of Australia’s most gifted filmmakers, but after a handful of lukewarm feature film offerings like Kill Me Three Times and Australia Day surely his magnum opus is on the horizon. Could Danger Close be it?
What Kriv Stenders told Cinema Australia about Danger Close: “Danger Close: The Battle of Long Tan is certainly the most ambitious and challenging film I’ve ever made. It’s truly an epic movie, made with the kind of scale and scope that is rarely possible in this country. My cast and crew were incredible and their dedication to bringing it all to life made it one of the most memorable movie making experiences of my life. I honestly can’t believe what the team have pulled off and I’m so excited to be sharing this significant Australian story with audiences this year.”
Directed by Rachel Ward
Written by Joanna Murray-Smith and Rachel Ward
Produced by Deborah Balderstone and Bryan Brown
Starring Sam Neill, Richard E. Grant, Jacqueline McKenzie, Greta Scacchi, Bryan Brown, Claire van der Boom, Aaron Jeffery and Matilda Brown
What it’s about: Palm Beach is a drama/comedy about a group of lifelong friends reuniting to celebrate a special birthday, with Sydney’s iconic Palm Beach providing a stunning backdrop for the unfolding drama. The good times roll, with loads of laughter, lavish meals, flowing wine and fantastic music, but slowly tensions mount and deep secrets arise.
Why we’re excited: Rachel Ward directing a cast to die for including her husband Bryan Brown and the couple’s daughter, Matilda. This family affair has success written all over it.
What Bryan Brown told Cinema Australia about Palm Beach: As Richard E. Grant said to me, ‘No one is untouched.’ And for sure the characters in Palm Beach reflect this statement only to well. It will be a buzz to get Palm Beach to Australian audiences this year. Five years in the making, a sensational location, terrific cast and Rachel Ward directing, AND a soundtrack to knock your socks off. We reckon we’re in with a chance. Fun and heart and family and friends. Watch out.”
Directed by Kiah Roache-Turner
Written by Kiah Roache-Turner and Tristan Roache-Turner
Produced by Troy Lum, Andrew Mason and Tristan Roache-Turner
Starring Monica Bellucci, Ben O’Toole, Caroline Ford, Tess Haubrich, Epine Bob Savea and David Wenham
What it’s about: Finnegan (Bellucci), the world’s greatest demon-hunting Nekromancer turned bad, is the first to discover evil spirits inside the internet, taking the mythical battle between good and evil into the digital realm. Years later, down-on-his-luck sewerage-waste worker Howard North (O’Toole) and Nekromancer sisters Molly (Ford) and Torquel (Haubrich) must destroy the plague of online demons and defeat the evil Finnegan before she can devour the souls of a million human beings addicted to their phones.
Why we’re excited: The Roache-Turner brothers gave us one of the most batshit crazy Australian films in recent memory with Wyrmwood: Road of the Dead. Here’s hoping they’ve turned that outrageous spirit up a notch with Nekrotronic.
What Tristan Roache-Turner told Cinema Australia about Nekrotronic: “This was such a fun film to make and I think the energy from set really comes through on the screen for audiences. There literally wasn’t a single day of shooting that didn’t involve some epic stunt work, practical fx or super-badass creature makeup. And guns. Lots and lots of guns. In addition, we were truly blessed with the casting of Monica Bellucci as our leading villainess, who was an absolute pleasure to work with. It’s a huge step up in filmmaking scope for us, the team we assembled was fantastically experienced – like a well oiled machine of demonic production.”
Directed by Paul Ireland
Written by Damian Hill and Paul Ireland
Produced by Troy Lum, Andrew Mason and Tristan Roache-Turner
Starring Hugo Weaving, Megan Smart, Fayssal Bazzi, Harrison Gilbertson, Daniel Henshall, Mal Kennard, John Brumpton and Mark Winter
What it’s about: An unlikely love ignites between a modern muslim girl and a local musician amongst the background of racial tension, amphetamines and gang culture in the city’s notorious housing estate.
Why we’re excited: Actor-turned-director Paul Ireland gave us one of the best Australian films of the century with his feature filmmaking debut Pawno, written by and starring the late Dame Hill. We’ve been anticipating Ireland’s next piece of cinema since Pawno so M4M can’t come soon enough.
What Paul Ireland told Cinema Australia about M4M: “M4M, or Measure 4 Measure, still not sure of the title, was the hardest and the most heart aching thing I have ever done. Saying that, I am immensely proud of every single person involved, and I reckon they are too. Our little family achieved a lot, we did this film together, every single one of us, and I hope everyone will be proud of the end result. This is not my film, this is a beautiful last hurrah to the amazing, talented Damian Hill. It’s a huge testament to him from all the crew and cast. We all Love and miss you brother.”
Ride Like a Girl
Directed by Rachel Griffiths
Written by Andrew Knight and Elise McCredie
Produced by Richard Keddie, Susie Montague-Delaney and Rachel Griffiths
Starring Teresa Palmer, Sam Neil, Sullivan Stapleton, Genevieve Morris, Aaron Glenane and Sophia Forrest
What it’s about: The inspirational true story of jockey Michelle Payne, who beat catastrophic injury and odds of a 100-1, to become the first female jockey to win the Melbourne Cup.
Why we’re excited: There’s still a dent in the Cinema Australia office floor from all the foot stopping and jumping around we did in celebration of Michelle Payne’s legendary Melbourne Cup win. Unfortunately, after more than a few sherbets, the race itself is a little hazy. We’re hoping the film will be able to fill in a few blanks from the historic day.
What Richard Keddie told Cinema Australia about Ride Like a Girl: For me Ride Like a Girl is a once in a lifetime story. The true story of Michelle Payne’s success as the first female to win the 2015 Melbourne Cup – the toughest two-mile horserace in the world. It is one of the greatest ‘underdog stories’ this country has ever seen.
Michelle’s win is the tip of the iceberg of an incredible family saga, of some of the finest and bravest people who ever walked this earth. Dad (Paddy Payne) raised 10 kids on his own after his wife was killed in a car accident. Michelle was just six months old. Eight of these kids became successful jockeys. At the heart of the family is Stevie Payne, who has Down syndrome, and our director Rachel Griffiths and I wondered if Stevie would play himself, so we quietly screen tested him together and were thrilled with what we found. It was typical of the depth and beauty of this story. Stevie became the star of our set, and typical of the funny, warmhearted nature of the film.
We had a beautiful script from Andrew Knight and Elise McCredie. An incredible cast in Teresa Palmer, Sam Neill, Sullivan Stapleton, Genevieve Morris and Sophia Forrest to name a few. Our main unit team were the best of the best including Naomi Cleaver Co-Producer/Line Producer; Felicity Stoward, Co-Producer/Financial Controller; Angelique Badenoch, Production Manager; Martin McGrath DP; Carrie Kennedy, Production Designer; Cappi Ireland, Costume; Chiara Tripodi, Hair & Make-Up; David Hirschfelder, composer; John Greene, Locations; and the extraordinary Jill Bilcock editing with Maria Papoutsis. Under the incredible horsemanship of Chris Symons and Peter Patterson, we approached the horse racing with a separate 60 person crew, and innovated technology that has never been used before to capture the experience of the jockey.
When Rachel Griffiths and I teamed up three years ago to start this film, we were acutely aware of the historical importance of this story, to celebrate a unique female who conquered all of the cultural and physical and psychological barriers of the most dangerous sport in the world. Until Michelle won the Cup, no-one thought they’d see the day a woman could do it.
What is emerging is a deeply emotional film, that has great joy and courage, and is ultimately one of the most inspiring Aussie films we have seen in a long time, I hope that Ride Like a Girl is as important for today, as some of Australia’s greatest films have been in their day. Michelle’s family deserve it.
Directed by Anthony Maras
Written by John Collee and Anthony Maras
Produced by Mike Gabrawy, Gary Hamilton, Basil Iwanyk, Andrew Ogilvie and Julie Ryan
Starring Armie Hammer, Dev Patel, Nazanin Boniadi, Tilda Cobham-Hervey with Anupam Kher and Jason Isaacs
What it’s about: A gripping true story of humanity and heroism, Hotel Mumbai vividly recounts the 2008 siege of the famed Taj Hotel by a group of terrorists in Mumbai, India. Among the dedicated hotel staff is the renowned chef Hemant Oberoi (Anupam Kher) and a waiter (Dev Patel) who choose to risk their lives to protect their guests. As the world watches on, a desperate couple (Armie Hammer) is forced to make unthinkable sacrifices to protect their newborn child.
Why we’re excited: Australian edge-of-you-seat thrillers are few and far between. We’re hoping the intensity of the two and half minute trailer draws out long enough to fill out this two hour film.
Directed by Caitlin Farrugia and Michael Jones
Written by Caitlin Farrugia and Michael Jones
Produced by Caitlin Farrugia and Michael Jones
Starring Tegan Crowley, Vateresio Tuikaba, Chloe Martin, Ryan A. Murphy, Fabiana Weiner and Eva Seymour
What it’s about: Patrick (Vateresio Tuikaba) is optimistic that filmmaking and parenthood are a good mix. But his partner Erin (Tegan Crowley), is not so sure. Whilst finding their feet in the newfound parenthood game, the couple is deep in pre-production on their self-funded feature film. Hoping to be both attentive parents and successful creatives, this juggling act offers a new perspective on priorities, responsibility and the important things in life.
Why we’re excited: We adore filmmaking duo Caitlin Farrugia and Michael Jones (Lazybones, So Long) and we get giddy whenever we hear of an upcoming release from the two. The Cinema Australia team are smack bang in the middle of Maybe Tomorrow’s target audience with a few rug rats of our own. The Melbourne independent filmmaking scene is booming with these two filmmakers leading the charge.
What Caitlin Farrugia told Cinema Australia about Maybe Tomorrow: “We wanted the film to be relatable to not just independent filmmakers but also to anyone who has had to compromise on their dreams,” Farrugia told Cinema Australia. “We thought it would be interesting to watch two people work out their priorities as parents, partners and creatives through the craziness of being in production. The film is about a couple who are filmmakers but it is more about their relationship as they raise their first child.”
Directed by Michael Bentham
Written by Michael Bentham
Produced by Donna Lyon-Hensler
Starring Mark Leonard Winter, Tom Wren, Geraldine Hakewill and Matilda Ridgway
What it’s about: Disclosure tells the story of soulmates Danny and Emily, whose 4-year-old daughter, Natasha, makes a serious allegation against the 9-year-old son of a local politician. The film asks the question, what would you do if your child came to you and began telling you a story about something that happened to them, that is one of your worst nightmares as a parent? And what would be the consequences of your actions?
Why we’re excited: We were lucky enough to see an early cut of the Disclosure trailer which has strong similarities to Roman Polanski’s Carnage. The scenes are performance driven by a group of incredibly talented young actors.
What Michael Bentham told Cinema Australia about Disclosure: “Disclosure is a psycho-drama that explores the ferocious forces that are unleashed when your child is threatened or harmed. I was honoured to work with a dream cast – Mark Leonard Winter, Geraldine Hakewill, Tom Wren and Matilda Ridgway – who delivered an extraordinary ensemble performance. With a cinematographer of the calibre of Mark Carey we were able to achieve an ambitious aesthetic, and responses to our test screenings have compared the film to Force Majeure and Lantana. Early indications that we have a compelling film came in the form of two distribution offers on the basis of our rough cut! Disclosure tackles an important and pressing social issue, and I am very proud of the excitement and anticipation that our project is generating.”
Directed by Paul Barakat
Written by Paul Barakat
Produced by Paul Barakat and Carla Barakat
Starring Chris Bunton, Jerome Pride, Digby Webster and Deborah Jones
What it’s about: Danny, a young man with Down syndrome and his boss John, an ex-boxer, struggle to deal with the fallout of a violent incident.
Why we’re excited: In a sea of impressive acting talent including Lincoln Younes, Fayssal Bazzi, Damon Herriman, Justin Rosniak and Harriet Dyer, Chris Bunton held his own in Abe Forsythe’s Down Under and gave a memorable debut performance. We’re excited to see Bunton in a leading role.
What Paul Barakat told Cinema Australia about Kairos: “I didn’t set out to make a public service announcement, but rather an engaging and compelling drama with a lead character who just happens to have Down syndrome. I believe Kairos truly shatters stereotypes and that was always my goal from the beginning. I had no financial support from any funding body, so my wife and I had to almost entirely self-fund the project. It’s my debut feature and a true independent film, so to see it travel as far as it has is a testament to the hard work and dedication of our cast and crew. It was an absolute honour to work with brilliant actors like Chris Bunton and Jerome Pride, who really light up the screen. Watching the film premiere at the Tertio Millenio Film Festival in Rome was a special experience, and it became even more memorable when we took out the top prize. I can’t wait to finally share it with audiences this year.”
Keep up to date with all of these films by checking into http://www.cinemaaustrlia.com.au regularly throughout the year.