14 New Projects Funded

A host of new projects – including a telemovie chronicling Julian Assange's early life and a TV version of ‘Puberty Blues’ – has received Screen Australia funding.

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Screen Australia has just announced close to $17 million in a diverse slate of feature films, television drama projects and children's television series. The investment in 14 projects will trigger over $97 million in production.

Features approved for investment include The Grandmothers, an erotic tale of misguided love based on a Doris Lessing novel and adapted for the screen by Oscar-winner Christopher Hampton (Atonement). Set to be directed by Anne Fontaine (Coco Avant Chanel), the film features a top-notch cast including Naomi Watts, Robin Wright, Xavier Samuel and James Frecheville (Animal Kingdom).

Leigh Whannell - the writer behind the first three Saw films and this year's chilling Insidious - will write and star in the black comedy The Mule. The film, which follows an unlikely drug dealer as he battles the authorities, will be the debut feature for Tony Mahony.

Other features include writer/director Paul Currie's New York-set high-concept psychological thriller 2:22; Mark Hartley's (Not Quite Hollywood) Patrick, a gothic horror re-working of Richard Franklin's 1978 cult film of the same name; the science fiction thriller These Final Hours; and the feature documentary The Pappas Brothers, which follows two Melbourne-based brothers who became the top skateboarders in the world.  

Television productions to be funded include the Network Ten biographical telemovie Underground which follows the early life of Julian Assange. The film will be directed by Robert Connolly (Balibo, Three Dollars) and executive produced by Tony Ayres who recently oversaw the ABC mini-series The Slap.

The classic Australian seventies story Puberty Blues is set to be reworked for Network Ten as a series penned by Alice Bell (Suburban Mayhem), Tony McNamara (Tangle, Love My Way), Fiona Seres (Tangle, Love My Way) and directed by Emma Freeman (Tangle, Hawke) and Glendyn Ivin (Offspring, Last Ride).

Other television series to receive investment include the ABC period mystery drama The Doctor Blake Mysteries; the two-part series, Devil's Dust, which tells the tragic story of Bernie Banton and his fight for justice against James Hardie Industries; and  World Series Cricket, a miniseries for Network Nine exploring Kerry Packer's creation of World Series Cricket in the 1970s.

Children's television shows to receive funding include the third series of Dance Academy, the live action children's series In Your Dreams, and the comic ABC animation series The Flamin' Thongs.

Picture caption: Naomi Watts, courtesy of Getty Images/Francois Durand.

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