An Uphill Battle
The road to distribution is a tough one for many features, but it’s proven an especially painful path for Rachel Barber, a mother pushing for the release of a film based on the murder of her daughter.
Some may recall the tragic news headlines in 1999 recounting that fifteen-year-old Rachel Barber went missing in Melbourne only to be found murdered by former friend, Caroline Reed Robertson, in a pre-meditated attack.
Barber’s mother, Elizabeth, co-authored a novel about the incident titled Perfect Victim with Megan Norris, and a high profile film – starring Guy Pearce, Miranda Otto and Sam Neill – followed in its wake. But despite interest surrounding the film and the talent involved, I Am You (which has been renamed a number of times), has never been released in Australia despite gaining an audience overseas.
And now Elizabeth Barber and the film’s writer/director, Simone North, have set up a petition site, “Help Get ‘I Am You’ Into Australian Cinema”, to help build support for an Australian release of the film.
It’s an understatement to say that the film, of which Elizabeth and her husband were consultants, has experienced its fair share of legal woes. According to Barber, the battle to release the picture commenced when the film’s Executive Producer, (former President of Universal Pictures no less) Thom Mount, made an illegal cut and voiceover of the film unbeknown to Simone North.
After some unfortunate legal wrangling, the illegal cut was saved from being released and Goldcrest came on as the new distributor. They gave the film a limited cinema release in the US under the title of In Her Skin (a change from the original title How To Change In 9 Weeks). The film has since been released overseas on DVD and pay television services across Europe, North and South America and Canada.
“It has received an interesting response,” Barber says. “As always, there are the film critics who do not like and say so, but there are also those who like. More importantly the audience like, and they like a lot, and are amazed it has still not been released to its Australian audience.”