Oz's 'The Rocket' wins acclaim at overseas film fests


Many Australasian films choose to go to overseas festivals before launching Down Under. This can give some films a much higher recognition factor than a local premiere could ever achieve. The Rocket recently took this approach. It premiered at the Berlin Film Festival, where it won Best First Feature for writer-director Kim Mordaunt as well as two other awards. Then in April it won three more awards at the Tribeca Film Festival including Best Narrative Feature, the Audience Award and Best Actor for 10-year-old Sitthiphon Disamoe. He stars as a boy in Laos whose family is forced to leave their home because of the construction of a dam. Curious Distribution plans a local premiere in the second half of the year.

There are those who feel that 3D may have passed its peak. Australian journalist Karl Quinn is not one of them. In a column in The Age newspaper, he states, quite correctly, that 3D gives a cinema experience that cannot be matched by any film download. He also feels that the growing number of cinemas in China, and the growing box office in Asia, will help keep 3D a real attraction for studios and filmmakers. Of course, both cinemas and distributors enjoy the higher ticket costs of 3D screenings and would like the format to continue for many years.

The name Hoyts has been associated with cinema in Australia and New Zealand since 1926. The name will stay on with the cinema division, but Hoyts Distribution is no longer. Acquired by StudioCanal in July last year, the distribution entity will now be called StudioCanal in this region.

New Zealander James Napier Roberston made his cinema debut as a three-year-old in the 1985 film Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome. He has moved on since then and is now directing his first feature, Genesis. The film focuses on a one-time speed-chess champion named Genesis Pontini. The Maori now suffers from bipolar disorder, and the film follows his struggle to save his chess club and himself. A release is planned for early 2014.

E-mail your Australia/New Zealand news items to David Pearce at insidemovies@hotmail.com.