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SYDNEY — After four years in the Cannes competition wilderness, the Australian film industry is buoyed by the selection of two features for the 67th Cannes Film Festival, which was announced Thursday as part of the event’s lineup by fest president Thierry Fremaux.
Veteran director Rolf De Heer will return to Cannes for the fourth time, in the Un Certain Regard sidebar, with Charlie’s Country, the latest film in what is considered his collaborative trilogy with Australian aboriginal actor David Gulpilil. And David Michod will makes his Cannes debut in a special midnight screening of his post-apocalyptic thriller The Rover.
“As a great celebration of cinema, the Cannes Film Festival has historically been a wonderful launching pad into the world market for films I’ve directed. I’m consequently very pleased that Charlie’s Country has been selected, because it means the film will be seen,” De Heer said of his pic’s selection.
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“I am so pleased for David [Gulpilil], for all his effort to be rewarded and for the chances of his best role now being seen not just at Cannes, but around the world,” he added.
Gulpilil has previously collaborated with De Heer on The Tracker and Ten Canoes, the latter of which screened in Un Certain Regard in 2006 and won a special jury prize. De Heer has also had The Quiet Room and Dance Me to My Song in official competition in Cannes.
Charlie’s Country stars Gulpilil as a native Australian who is getting older and is out of sorts. De Heer describes the film as “a story of a man of David’s age living in a remote community under the intervention and grappling with the changes that are happening, not knowing how he’s meant to live his life in Australia these days and deciding to go bush and live the old way.”
The pic was filmed on location in the Northern Territory and will be released in Australia in July by Entertainment One (formerly Hopscotch Films). Supported by the Adelaide Film Festival Investment Fund, the film had its world premiere in October at the Adelaide Film Festival, where it received the audience award.
De Heer will attend the film’s international premiere in Cannes accompanied by co-developer/lead actor Gulpilil, actor/producer Peter Djigirr and executive producer Sue Murray.
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Meanwhile, Michod’s The Rover, starring Guy Pearce and Robert Pattinson, has been given a prestigious midnight screening slot.
Producer Liz Watts said, “David and everyone involved with The Rover are thrilled by its world premiere at the highly prestigious Cannes Film Festival — it’s truly an honor to screen there, and a wonderful start to the movie’s journey to audiences all over the world.”
The Rover is set 10 years after the downfall of the Western economic system, when society is in decline, the rule of law has disintegrated and life is cheap. Eric (Pearce) is a cold, angry drifter who has left everything and everyone behind. When his car is stolen by a gang of desperate desert hustlers, Eric embarks on a ruthless mission to track them down. Along the way, he is forced into an unlikely relationship with Rey (Pattinson), a naive and injured gang member.
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Following its world premiere at Cannes, The Rover will be released in Australia on June 12 through Roadshow Films. FilmNation Entertainment is handling international sales.
Both films were made with funding from national agency Screen Australia.
“This is an honor for two remarkable Australian filmmakers — a veteran and a tremendous next-generation storyteller,” said Screen Australia CEO Graeme Mason. “It is wonderful to see both being celebrated by one of the leading film festivals of the world, Cannes, and well-deserved recognition to both.”
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