Two Aussie Features Selected for Sundance

Eden Caceda reports on Sundance Film Festival

Two female filmmakers, both making their directorial feature debut, have had their works selected for Sundance Film Festival.

This year’s Sundance Film Festival has selected two Australian feature films to premiere at their festival in early 2014. The Babadook and 52 Tuesdays will be among some of the best independent films on show next January 16-26 at the annual festival in Utah.

Of the 12 films chosen from independent filmmakers around the world, Sophie Hyde’s directorial feature debut, 52 Tuesdays, will screen in the World Cinema Dramatic Competition. Written by Sophie Hyde and Matthew Cormack, the film follows a relationship between a mother who is undergoing a gender transition and her daughter who meet every Tuesday, with the film itself shot every Tuesday for 52 consecutive weeks. Rising actors Del Herbet-Jane and Tilda Cobham-Hervey star as mother and daughter respectively and received critical acclaim following the film’s world premiere at the Adelaide Film Festival this year.

Produced by Bryan Mason, Matthew Cormack, Rebecca Summerton and Sophie Hyde from Closer Productions, a collective of filmmakers in Adelaide, the team have also been responsible for previous films Life in Movement, I Want to Dance Better at Parties, Stunt Love and Shut Up Little Man! An Audio Misadventure, the latter of which also premiered at Sundance in 2011.

“We are thrilled to be having our international premiere at Sundance. With support from the South Australian Film Corporation’s (SAFC) innovative FilmLab program, it’s been remarkable that we have been able to make a film in such a unique way, and we can’t wait to show it to audiences around the world,” Hyde said.

“Alongside the film, our companion project My 52 Tuesdays [a portable photo-booth and app for smart phones] has been invited to the New Frontier program, meaning we will be asking our audiences to be part of the work in a meaningful way. This was a risky and all-consuming film to make, and the Sundance selection is great recognition of the commitment and bravery of our wonderful team,” Hyde said.

Writer/director Jennifer Kent’s debut feature, The Babadook, will also have its world premiere at Sundance and is one of nine films chosen from around the world to screen as part of Park City at Midnight, Sundance’s prestigious late night genre section. A psychological thriller, said to be in the tradition of Roman Polanski’s domestic horror classics Rosemary’s Baby, The Tenant and Repulsion, Kent’s The Bababook stars Essie Davis (Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries) as a single mother battling with her son’s monster fears.

Produced by Kristina Ceyton and Kristian Moliere, with executive producers Jan Chapman, Jonathan Page, Michael Tear and Jeff Harrison, the film also received production investment from SAFC and Screen Australia. Ceyton said, “We’re all so thrilled and honoured that The Babadook has been selected to have its world premiere at Sundance. And to see our film screen on the opening weekend as part of the prestigious Park City at Midnight section is incredibly exciting.”

Recently announced as the recipient of a professional placement through Screen Australia’s Talent Escalator program, Ceyton will be working in Los Angeles for six months as part of the feature film production department at FilmNation Entertainment following her Sundance premiere.

Screen Australia’s Head of Marketing, Kathleen Drumm, said, “Sundance is a highly competitive festival with over 12,000 submissions last year and only 34 available spots for non-US productions. It is a real tribute to the filmmakers to have achieved such a coveted international premiere.”

“Sophie Hyde and Jennifer Kent are talented Australian female filmmakers who, along with their respective production teams, have produced original and genre-bending films. We wish both films and their creative teams well on their international journey.”

Originally printed on FilmInk Magazine online, December 9, 2013.

Watch the trailer for The Babadook below:

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