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Aacta awards 2019: it's strange to be a critic at the ceremony | Luke Buckmaster

Guardian Australia’s film critic tries to avoid red carpets at all costs. We made him sit through this one

Lambs of God and The Nightingale were among the big winners at this year’s Aacta awards – the Australian screen industry’s celebration of film and television.

The former – a brooding four-part Foxtel drama about creepy nuns living on a far-flung island – scored a total of eight awards in the TV categories, including best miniseries, best direction (for Jeffrey Walker) and best cinematography (for the veteran sharp eye Donald McAlpine).
See full article at The Guardian - Film News »

Aacta awards 2019: it's strange to be a critic at the ceremony | Luke Buckmaster

Guardian Australia’s film critic tries to avoid red carpets at all costs. We made him sit through this one

Lambs of God and The Nightingale were among the big winners at this year’s Aacta awards – the Australian screen industry’s celebration of film and television.

The former – a brooding four-part Foxtel drama about creepy nuns living on a far-flung island – scored a total of eight awards in the TV categories, including best miniseries, best direction (for Jeffrey Walker) and best cinematography (for the veteran sharp eye Donald McAlpine).

Related: Aacta awards 2019 winners: The Nightingale and Total Control dominate Australian screen awards

Related: Acute Misfortune first-look review – Adam Cullen biopic is an enthralling, complex triumph
See full article at The Guardian - TV News »

Benedict Hardie finds a silver lining amid the carnage in ‘Judy & Punch’

Terry Norris and Benedict Hardie in ‘Judy & Punch.’

After portraying a succession of dastardly or less than noble characters in films and TV series, Benedict Hardie welcomed the chance to play someone with at least a few redeeming qualities in Judy & Punch.

In Mirrah Foulkes’ brutal, dark re-interpretation of the puppet play which opens in Australian cinemas on Thursday via Madman Entertainment, he plays Constable Derrick.

The lone cop in the wryly-named inland town of Seaside, Derrick struggles to maintain law and order as Damon Herriman’s narcissistic Punch causes mayhem after his much-abused wife Judy (Mia Wasikowska) vanishes.

“It was such a pleasure to make that film,” he tells If. “The script was like nothing any of us has read. Derrick becomes an emotional touchstone for the audience as an outsider looking at this mad world.

“He’s a quiet, meek and gentle soul who hopes for the
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Short theatrical window for ‘True History of the Kelly Gang’

George MacKay in ‘True History of the Kelly Gang.’

Justin Kurzel’s True History of the Kelly Gang will open in Australian cinemas on January 9, just 18 days before its Australia Day premiere on Stan.

The short window and limited theatrical release were virtually inevitable after Stan announced the bushranger epic starring George MacKay, Russell Crowe, Nicholas Hoult and Essie Davis would premiere in summer as a Stan Original.

The major chains are determined to protect the traditional 90 day window and will not screen the film so distributor Transmission Films this week will start booking the title at the independent cinemas that are screening the Netflix productions The King, The Irishman, Marriage Story and The Two Popes and Amazon Studios’ The Report and Brittany Runs a Marathon.

The Netflix titles are screening at the Eddie Tamir family-owned Randwick Ritz Cinemas and Melbourne’s Lido, Classic and Cameo cinemas plus Mel Gibson
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Rupert Penry-Jones, Ryan Corr and David Lyons join ‘The Commons’

Rupert Penry-Jones in ‘The Commons’. (Photo: John Platt)

British actor Rupert Penry-Jones, Ryan Corr (Bloom) and David Lyons have joined the cast of Stan/Playmaker Media’s The Commons.

They join the previously announced headliners Brit Joanne Froggatt (Downton Abbey) and Damon Herriman, most recently seen on film in Quentin Tarantino’s Once Upon a Time in Hollywood and on Foxtel’s Mr Inbetween.

Additionally, the cast will be bolstered by television stalwart John Waters, Fayssal Bazzi (Stateless), Simone McAullay, Andrea Demetriades, Felix Williamson, Inez CurroĢ (Picnic at Hanging Rock), Dominic Ona-Ariki and Zara Michales (Diary of an Uber Driver).

The eight-part high end drama production was created by Aacta Award-winning showrunner Shelley Birse (The Code), who wrote the series with a team including Matt Ford, Michael Miller and Matt Cameron.

Currently being shot across Sydney, the thriller is directed by Jeffrey Walker alongside Rowan Woods and Jennifer Leacey. Described
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John Sheedy’s ‘H is for Happiness’ wins $100,000 CinefestOZ prize

(L-r) John Sheedy, Daisy Axon, Julie Ryan, Lisa Hoppe and Tenille Kennedy (Photo credit: Court McAllister).

John Sheedy’s feature debut H is for Happiness, an adaptation of Barry Jonsberg’s young adult novel My Life as an Alphabet, has won this year’s $100,000 CinefestOZ Film Prize.

Announcing the award at the Saturday night gala, jury chair Rachel Ward said: “If we have the power as jurors to change the world to be a better place, then voting for H is for Happiness to win the CinefestOZ 2019 is our contribution. As juror Alex Dimitriades added, H is also for Hope.”

The other finalists were Owen Trevor’s Go!, Ben Lawrence’s Hearts and Bones, Mirrah FoulkesJudy & Punch and Paul Ireland’s Measure for Measure.

Sheedy said: “The competition was so tough. There were five amazing films, I saw all of them. To be chosen in such good company
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Worldwide sales for Lingo Pictures’ ‘Lambs of God’

Lambs of God’ Photo credit: Mark Rogers.

Lingo PicturesLambs of God now ranks as one of Australian TV’s most successful drama exports.

The UK-based distributor Sky Vision has sold the Jeffrey Walker-directed miniseries adapted by Sarah Lambert from Marele Day’s novel to broadcasters in 46 territories.

Among the buyers are HBO Nordic in Spain, Rtl Television in Germany and Switzerland, Norway’s AMedia, Sky New Zealand and South Korea’s Chu.U. Deals with the Us and UK are said to be in deep negotiation.

The drama, which stars Essie Davis, Jessica Barden and Ann Dowd as nuns on a secluded, remote island who kidnap priest Father Ignatius (Sam Reid), has delivered the best overnight ratings for a drama on Fox Showcase since May 2018.

The cast includes John Bell as a bishop, Damon Herriman as Father Bob, Daniel Henshall as the local cop and Kate Mulvany as Ignatius’ troubled sister.
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‘Lambs of God’ sets a new benchmark for Sarah Lambert

Sarah Lambert on the set of ‘Lambs of God.’

While Foxtel’s Lambs of God may well represent the pinnacle of Sarah Lambert’s 20-year career, the screenwriter/producer’s workload and reputation are set to reach new heights over the next two years.

The prolific Lambert is juggling four high-profile international TV series and two other projects. If they all get up, she may well have to clone herself.

First off, she has written the pilot of Traces, an 8-part drama based on a true crime case in Italy that has been transplanted to Australia. An examination of a miscarriage of justice, it’s being developed as a co-production between RevLover Films’ Martha Coleman and Lauren Edwards and Porchlight FilmsVincent Sheehan and Liz Watts.

Currently she is tackling the pilot for The Lost Flowers of Alice Hart (working title) for Made Up Stories’ Bruna Papandrea, Jodi Matterson and Steve Hutensky.
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Foxtel reaffirms its commitment to Australian drama

Patrick Delany.

Foxtel CEO Patrick Delany has reassured Australian producers that its commitment to commissioning Australian drama has not wavered.

Some producers expressed concern after it was announced that Penny Win would step down after nearly five years as Foxtel’s head of drama and transition to a consultant role.

Earlier this year Foxtel did call a temporary halt to drama commissions while it reviewed its approach to the genre, raising fears it may reduce its investment in drama after funneling many millions of dollars into sports rights and Svod service Kayo Sports.

However Delany told If today: “We are not shirking or moving away from our commitment to Australian drama. We will continue to commission four series each year.”

More broadly, 75 new and returning dramas are premiering on Foxtel this year. The platform has screened Matchbox’s Secret City: Under the Eagle and Fremantle’s Wentworth and Lingo PicturesLambs of God,
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Kate Mulvany succeeds in the hunt for juicy roles

Kate Mulvany as Frankie in ‘Lambs of God’ (Photo: Mark Rogers).

Kate Mulvany has a stellar CV as a playwright, screenwriter and stage, film and TV actor – but several years ago she was afraid that screen roles were drying up.

Happily that changed when she was cast as an Army captain who suspects the death of her husband in Afghanistan was covered up in the Foxtel/Goalpost Pictures’ drama Fighting Season.

Now she is on screen in Foxtel/Lingo Pictures’ miniseries Lambs of God as Frankie, the sister of Father Ignatius (Sam Reid), who is kidnapped by nuns played by Ann Dowd, Jessica Barden and Essie Davis.

Her acting career continues to flourish as she makes her Us TV series debut in Amazon’s The Hunt, which follows a group of Nazi-hunters living in New York City in 1977.

“I thought roles might dry up for actors who are over
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Lambs of God review – audacious fable of blood-swilling nuns vs church politics

Adaptation of Marele Day’s novel is a gothic, grisly and deliriously compelling view of cynical, contemporary Catholicism

If you ever find yourself trapped in a decrepit convent on a far-flung island, run by creepy nuns who look like Macbeth’s witches and shriek proclamations such as “today is dying day!” and “my flesh is real food!” consider the following a word of advice. Do not accept from them a cup of tea they call “Stay at Home” and do not, under any circumstances, no matter how frustrating the experience, criticise these zealots for telling different and thoroughly warped versions of popular fairytales.

These were a couple of the take-home lessons I gleaned from Foxtel’s intensely gothic and deliriously compelling four-part series Lambs of God, from the creator/writer Sarah Lambert (adapting Marele Day’s best-selling novel) and, marking his best work yet, director Jeffrey Walker. It plays out like a religious-themed Misery,
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Writer Matt Cameron makes the leap to a bigger canvas

Matt Cameron.

For years as a screenwriter Matt Cameron had to get accustomed to a common response from some producers when he handed in scripts.

“Thanks for the script,” he was often told. “Bye-bye, we will let you know when it’s on air.”

That has changed significantly in the past few years as writers are increasingly employed as showrunners or producers, actively involved through to completion.

“The change has been quite swift and profound,” he tells If. “There are still some old school producers who are really hanging on to the past because the old structure suited them well. They liked going to Mipcom each year and not have writers in the room for key meetings.

“The best producers we have in this country, and there’s lots, have really embraced the international approach, which is that it makes no sense not to have the writer in the room
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‘Downton Abbey’ star Joanne Froggatt to headline Stan drama

Joanne Froggatt, Damon Herriman.

Joanne Froggatt and Damon Herriman head the cast of The Commons, an eight-hour drama commissioned by Stan.

Created by showrunner Shelley Birse (The Code) and produced by Diane Haddon for Playmaker Media, the character-driven thriller set in the near future starts shooting in Sydney next week.

Jeffrey Walker is the set-up director, working with Rowan Woods and Jen Leacey.

Scripted by Birse, Matt Ford, Michael Miller and Matt Cameron, the plot is said to play out at the intersection of climate change and the cutting edge of biotechnology, dealing with the “heroism inside us all when our backs are against the wall.”

Graham Yost is among the executive producers together with Playmaker’s David Taylor and David Maher, Stan’s chief content officer Nick Forward, Fred Golan and Birse.

Forward tells If: “It’s a hugely ambitious project that deals with some big themes. It’s
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Equity members salute casts of ‘Riot,’ ‘Homecoming Queens,’ ‘Mystery Road’


The cast members of Werner Film Productions’ Riot, Generator Pictures’ Homecoming Queens and Bunya Productions’ Mystery Road were voted by members of Equity Australia as the most outstanding ensembles in the 9th annual Equity Ensemble Awards.

Presented in Sydney on Monday night, ABC TV’s Riot’s Damon Herriman, Kate Box, Xavier Samuel, Jessica De Gouw and Josh Quong Tart took the prize for outstanding performance by an ensemble in a mini-series/telemovie.

Sbs’s Homecoming QueensMichelle Law, Liv Hewson, Taylor Ferguson, George Zhao, John McNeill, Yassmin Abdel-Magied and Adele Perovic won outstanding performance by an ensemble in a comedy series.

Aaron Pedersen, Judy Davis, Deborah Mailman, Wayne Blair, Colin Friels, Anthony Hayes, John Waters, Tasma Walton, Tasia Zalar, Madeleine Madden, Ernie Dingo, Aaron McGrath, Rohan Mirchandaney, Meyne Wyatt, Connor Van Vuuren, Eddie Baroo, Ningali Lawford, Jessica Falkholt, Benjamin Hoetjes and Kris McQuade won the drama series category
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Damon Herriman aims to take a break from villainy

Damon Herriman in ‘Perpetual Grace, Ltd.’

After portraying a succession of killers, psychotics and all-round bad dudes for the best part of 10 years, Damon Herriman is striving to play more upstanding characters.

With mixed success, it must be said. The actor cheerfully acknowledges his career has been in a purple patch for the last few years but says: “I have been in this business long enough to know it may not last. I had a 10-year run playing bad guys so now I am trying to steer clear of playing psychopaths and violent pigs.”

Not that he would turn down a juicy role as a villain.

Recently he wrapped shooting the second season of FX/Foxtel’s Mr Inbetween, which stars the creator Scott Ryan as professional hitman Ray Shoesmith. Nash Edgerton continues as the director of the comedy/action drama produced by Michele Bennett for Jungle Entertainment and Blue-Tongue Films.
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Thornton, Perkins, Walker win at Adg Awards

Warwick Thornton and Sam Neill on the set of ‘Sweet Country’.

Warwick Thornton took home the top gong at last night’s Australian Directors’ Guild (Adg) Awards for outback Western Sweet Country.

It joins a slew of other prizes for the film, which follows an Aboriginal stockman who a kills white station owner in self-defence, including the Venice Film Festival Special Jury Prize, the Toronto International Film Festival Platform Prize, and six Aacta Awards, including Best Film and Best Direction.

Competing against Thornton for Best Direction in a Feature Film (budget $1 million or over) were Joel Edgerton for Boy Erased, Anthony Maras for Hotel Mumbai, and Garth Davis for Mary Magdelene.

The Adg Awards were held at Sydney’s City Recital Hall, with presenters including Rachel Griffiths, Claudia Karvan, Bryan Brown and Rachel Ward.

This year also saw the guild divide the feature film category for the first time, introducing
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Daniel Henshall finds truth amid lies in ‘Acute Misfortune’

Daniel Henshall and Toby Wallace in ‘Acute Misfortune’

Daniel Henshall plays one of the most challenging roles of his career as gun-toting, manipulative and alcohol and drug-fueled painter Adam Cullen in Acute Misfortune.

Yet when the director Thomas M. Wright sent the actor the source material – Erik Jensen’s book Acute Misfortune: The Life and Death of Adam Cullen – four years ago, initially he had his doubts.

“I feared the film would sensationalise Adam and his poor behaviour,” Henshall tells If from New York, where he now lives with his wife. “He could be very charming but I did not particularly like the character.”

Wright, who co-wrote the screenplay with Jensen, quickly convinced him otherwise, explaining the film would look at issues such as acclaim and identity, toxic masculinity and how deeply troubled people can create great art.

Romper Stomper’s Toby Wallace plays Jensen, who was an ambitious 19-year-old
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Kate Mulvany cast in Jordan Peele-produced series ‘The Hunt’

Kate Mulvany (Photo credit: Getty Images)

Kate Mulvany is making her Us TV series debut in The Hunt, which follows a group of Nazi hunters living in New York City in 1977 and is inspired by real events.

Jordan Peele’s Monkeypaw Productions and Sonar Entertainment are producing the 10-part thriller created by David Weil for Amazon Prime Video.

The Fighting Season, Secret City and The Great Gatsby star is playing Sister Harriet, one of the members of The Hunters who set out on a bloody quest to prevent hundreds of high-ranking Nazi officials from creating a Fourth Reich in the Us.

Logan Lerman plays Jonah Heidelbaum, whose grandmother is killed by a mysterious intruder in their apartment. As he tries to track down the killer he becomes swept up with The Hunters. In his TV series debut Al Pacino plays the Nazi hunter who mentors Jonah.

The cast includes Lena Olin,
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Jeffrey Walker on the unique experience of ‘Lambs of God’

Ann Dowd and Jeffrey Walker on the set of ‘Lambs of God’ (Photo credit: Mark Rogers).

When director Jeffrey Walker was sent Sarah Lambert’s scripts for the first two episodes of Lambs of God, he replied he’d have to take the job so he could read episode three.

That was in jest – but he could not resist the challenge to direct Lingo Pictures’ comedic drama commissioned by Foxtel, which is unlike any show he had ever directed in the past 15 years.

The four hour miniseries adapted from Marele Day’s novel “treads a fine line between dark comedy, fantasy, fairytale and thriller,” he tells If.

“It definitely pushes the boundaries of expectations and lives in its own space. The scripts were completely unpredictable, from page to page.”

Walker, Lambert and Lingo Pictures’ Jason Stephens attended the world premiere of the first two episodes at the Series Mania festival
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Thornton, Edgerton, Perkins, Maras and Hyde among nominees for Adg Awards

Sophie Hyde, Rachel Perkins.

Warwick Thornton, Garth Davis, Joel Edgerton and Anthony Maras have been nominated for best direction in a feature film budgeted at $1 million or more in the 2019 Australian Directors’ Guild Awards.

So Sweet Country, Mary Magdalene, Boy Erased and Hotel Mumbai will compete in the awards to be announced on Monday May 6 at the City Recital Hall in Sydney.

In the new category of best direction in a feature budgeted below $1 million, the nominees are Christopher Kay (Just Between Us), Donna McRae (Lost Gully Road), Dustin Feneley (Stray) and Jason Perini (Chasing Comets).

The nominees for best direction in a TV or SVoD drama series episode are Rachel Perkins (Mystery Road series 1), Nash Edgerton (Mr Inbetween series 1), Tony Krawitz and Emma Freeman.

Jeffrey Walker (Riot), Daina Reid and Shannon Murphy (On The Ropes) have been nominated for best direction in a TV or SVoD miniseries and telefeature.
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