Freelance journalist Don Groves is a Deadline contributor based in Sydney
There’s a record number of Aussie actors and directors toiling in Hollywood — and more on deck. One of the reasons: US and Oz agents are networking more closely than ever. Often, untried talent is being nabbed on tips from agents Down Under. After she appeared in the Australian TV soap Home and Away, UTA signed Abbie Cornish’s 17-year-old sister Isabelle on the recommendation of her Sydney rep, United Management’s Natasha Harrison. WME nabbed Ben O’Toole and UTA secured Ross Langley after each had graduated from Oz drama schools.
“There is definite heat on Australia right now because so many films recently have had a strong, distinctive voice,” UTA literary agent Bec Smith, an Aussie who moved to Los Angeles in 2007, tells Deadline. Those films include Animal Kingdom, Snowtown, Red Dog, Sleeping Beauty and Wish You Were Here, all from first-time filmmakers. Meanwhile, the Weinstein Company recently picked up Cannes feel-good pic, The Sapphires, from debut feature director Wayne Blair, who acted in Wish You Were Here. “There’s a constant flow of talent into the U.S. studio system and that’s helped by the fluidity between U.S. and Australian agents”, says Smith. “We work with them all and see them as our … Read More »
Family film Red Dog won the best picture prize at Oz’s inaugural Australian Academy of Cinema and TV Arts awards on Tuesday night in Sydney. The film stars Josh Lucas, Rachael Taylor and Keisha Castle-Hughes and was 2011’s top-grossing local pic at the Australian box office. The big winner, however, was Justin Kurzel’s serial killer thriller Snowtown taking prizes for directing, adapted screenplay, actor (Daniel Henshall) and supporting actress (Louise Harris). The film ran in Critics Week in Cannes last year and was acquired by IFC Midnight at the time. Judy Davis was named Best Actress for Fred Schepisi’s family drama The Eye Of The Storm which sold in the U.S. to Sycamore Entertainment earlier this month. Hugo Weaving was named Best Supporting Actor for drama Oranges and Sunshine. On the TV side, controversial series The Slap, based on the book by Christos Tsiolkas, took home prizes in the miniseries, directing, screenplay, lead actor and guest actor categories. DirecTV has US rights to the show while Sundance Channel has some foreign territories. The full list of winners can be found here.
Justin Kurzel’s Snowtown was awarded the Jury Prize at the 11th Marrakesh International Film Festival on Saturday night. (The psychological thriller ran in Critics Week at the Cannes Film Festival earlier this year where IFC Midnight picked it up for North American rights.) Star Daniel Henshall was the best actor prize winner in Marrakesh. Frederikke Aspock’s Out Of Bounds took the fest’s Grand Prize. The top directing award was given to Gianluca and Massimiliano De Serio for the Italian drama Seven Acts Of Mercy. Joslyn Jensen picked up the best actress award for Without, a film by Mark Jackson that took advantage of Kickstarter, ran in Slamdance, and was recently nominated for the ‘Best Film Not Playing At A Theater Near You’ prize at the Gotham Awards.