Phoenix Raei and Hugo Weaving revealed for Mark Leonard Winter’s feature debut The Rooster

Phoenix Raei as Dan and Hugo Weaving as Mit in The Rooster. Photo by Sarah Enticknap.

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Rising talent Phoenix Raei (ClickbaitStateless, The Night Agent), and Hugo Weaving (Lord of the Rings, The Matrix, Love Me), star in The Rooster, a mystery-drama written and directed by award-winning actor Mark Leonard Winter.

Mark Leonard Winter makes his feature filmmaking debut with The Rooster, which is produced by Logie-nominated actor Geraldine Hakewill (Wanted, Ms Fishers Modern Murder Mysteries), and AACTA award-winning producer MahVeen Shahraki (Ellie and Abbie, The Translator) for her company Thousand Mile Productions.

Executive producers on the project include Susie Montague-Delaney (Ride Like a Girl, Pawno), Patrick James (Ellie and Abbie) and Michael Kantor (The Boy Castaways). The film will be distributed in Australia and New Zealand by Jonathan Page for Bonsai Films.

The Rooster follows small-town cop Dan (Phoenix Raei). When the body of his oldest friend is found buried in a shallow grave, Dan seeks answers from a volatile hermit (Hugo Weaving), who was the last person to see his friend alive.

The Rooster is a gripping story about friendship and how hope can come from unlikely places, anchored by riveting performances from its two leads. It confronts themes around shame and masculinity with unexpected humour, whilst keeping the audience in suspense.

The Rooster also features Helen Thomson (Elvis, Top of the Lake), Rhys Mitchell (Cake, Upper Middle Bogan), Bert La Bonte (Surviving Summer, Five Bedrooms), John Waters (Offspring, Mystery Road), Camilla Ah Kin (Wakefield, Holding the Man), Robert Menzies (Little Tornadoes, Glitch) and Deirdre Rubenstein (Force of DestinySuperwog).

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Principal photography has just been completed on Dja Dja Wurrung country in the region of the Hepburn Shire in Victoria, Australia.

The Rooster was written as an offering exploring the strange and lonely place a mental health crisis can take you. The fact that something born of isolation has brought together the most extraordinary cast and crew to work on it is a tremendous victory in its own right,” said Mark Leonard Winter.

“Together we have infused so much warmth, humour and emotional generosity into the material. It has been, and continues to be, a true joy in collaborating with my team to create something very special.”

Producers Geraldine Hakewill and MahVeen Shahraki said, “We’re thrilled to be bringing Mark’s exceptional and unique script to life with such an experienced team of HoDs, crew and cast, and we can’t wait to share The Rooster with audiences around the world who crave nuanced, performance-driven mysteries.

“We were lucky enough to be able to shoot the film in an extraordinary part of the country that is rarely associated with the Australian landscape, being dark, cold, and often shrouded in mist. It is a living force in our story.

“We’re so grateful to all our executive producers, supporters and partners who made our shoot possible, especially during such a precarious moment of the pandemic when restrictions in Victoria were easing but cases were rising. It was a truly magical shoot, full of camaraderie, beauty and extreme weather, all of which added to the fabric of the finished product which looks to exceed all of our expectations,” added producers Hakewill and Shahraki.

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