Screen Australia Invests $17 Million in Various Projects

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Naomi Watts

New films from Leigh Whannel and Robert Connolly, a biopic about Julian Assange and Naomi Watts' new feature "The Grandmothers," amongst those receiving agency funding.

SYDNEY - A gothic horror reboot of 1978 classic Patrick, a telemovie about a teenage hacker named Julian Assange, Leigh Whannel’s first comedy, and the new Naomi Watts starrer, The Grandmothers, are among the projects that received $17 million in investment from Screen Australia in its final funding round for 2011, announced Monday.

Whannel, coming off the Saw franchise, has written, will co- produce and star in black comedy, The Mule, with co-producer and co-writer Angus Sampson, who will also star alongside Whannel. The film will be directed by Tony Mahony and be produced by Paul Clarke. Hospcotch Films is the local distributor and its parent eOne will handle international sales.

Hopscotch EOne will also back skateboarding documentary The Pappas Brothers, as sales agents and distributor.

Meanwhile Matchbox Pictures, majority–owned by NBCUniversal will make Underground for Network Ten, a biopic which follows the early life of Julian Assange in Melbourne in the 1980’s. The film follows Assange and his friends, calling themselves the International Subversives, try to break into the computer systems of the world’s most powerful organizations. Underground has been written and will be directed by award winning filmmaker Robert Connolly.

Connolly will also executive produce sci fi thriller These Final Hours, from writer director Zack Hilditch.

Elsewhere, 2:22, a high-concept psychological thriller set in New York, is being produced by Jackie O’Sullivan and Paul Currie. Currie has written the script with Todd Stein and will make his directorial debut in the film about Dylan Boyd, an air traffic controller whose life is permanently derailed when an ominous pattern of events funnels him into Grand Central Station every day at 2.22pm, where he falls for a beautiful woman. International sales agents for 2.22 are Gold Circle Films and Lionsgate International while Icon Productions will handle Australian distribution.

And writer Justin King and director Mark Hartley will make genre feature, Patrick, a remake of Richard Franklin’s 1978 thriller in which a comatose hospital patient harasses and kills though his powers of telekinesis to claim his private nurse as his own. Tony Ginnane, who produced the original film will again produce with visual effects house Rising Sun Pictures also producing. Bankside Films will handle international sales with Umbrella Entertainment as the local distributor.

Screen Australia chief operating officer Fiona Cameron said that in total these projects along with other TV and children’s dramas that received funding, will amount to $97 million worth of production.

“Screen Australia is pleased to announce a strong and diverse slate of feature films today. The Grandmothers is a sophisticated Australian story with significant creative potential and a hugely talented cast. The high-concept thriller 2:22 is a type of film that rarely gets presented to Screen Australia and will be an international career launcher for Australian director Paul Currie,” Cameron said.

“It’s great to support one of our most successful international filmmakers Leigh Whannell with his first Australian feature The Mule. The Pappas Brothers promises to be an intense and compelling theatrical documentary and These Final Hours will see an emerging creative team explore the end of the world,” she added. .

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