Ten filmmakers will participate in a suite of activities as part of the new Adelaide Film Festival  x Cannes Initiative incorporating a curated roundtable program, networking activities and the showcasing of five near complete projects as part of a formal market presentation Adelaide Film Festival Goes to Cannes in partnership with Cannes Marche du Film.

Adelaide Film Festival Goes to Cannes was open to filmmakers with a near (in post-production) or completed film seeking an international sales agent.   The five films selected will be presented by the filmmakers to an audience of sales agents, investors, programmers and other market delegates  on Friday May 17.

The Adelaide Film Festival Goes to Cannes showcase includes Lesbian Space Princess (Directors Emma Hough-Hobbs & Leela Varghese), Kangaroo Island (Director Timothy Piper), With or Without You (Director Kelly Schilling), The Iron Winter (Director Kasimir Burgess) and Mockbuster (Director Anthony Frith).  Filmmakers Leela Varghese, Timothy Piper and Kelly Schilling will represent their films along with Mockbuster writer and producer Sandy Cameron and The Iron Winter producer Ben Golotta. Other filmmakers to join the delegation include Travis Akbar, Nara Wison, Josh Trevorrow, Lisa Scott and Matt Vesely, each presenting a slate of new work, engaging directly with investors and agents in the market.

“Development and support for the filmmaking community is a critical part of Adelaide Film Festival’s strategy and this exciting collaboration will see the Festival leverage its extensive networks and strong relationship with Cannes to connect Australian filmmakers to the global market and showcase South Australia as a centre of creative endeavour.  This is a fantastic line-up of films and an impressive delegation of filmmakers,” said Mat Kesting, CEO & Creative Director.

A further exemplar of Adelaide Film Festival’s commitment to international engagement is its established partnership with Jogja NETPAC Asian Film Festival, Indonesia. Supported by the Australian Federal Office for the Arts and the Indonesian Ministry of Culture, this collaboration encompasses a filmmaker exchange program aimed at facilitating professional development and fostering co-production and cultural understanding between Australian and Indonesian filmmakers.

The announcement comes on the back of the Adelaide Film Festival and Samstag Museum of Art 2024 co-commissioned moving image artist Archie Moore winning the Venice Biennale’s Golden Lion. Moore’s follow up to Venice will be presented as part of the Adelaide Film Festival 2024.

The AFF x Cannes initiative is funded by the Government of South Australia, Department for Premier and Cabinet with the South Australian Film Corporation (SAFC) funding the participation of two First Nations South Australian filmmakers.

Since 2003, the Adelaide Film Festival Investment Fund has premiered and seeded over 150 projects, launched careers, and supported some of the most significant Australian films of the 21st Century.

Major AFF Investment Fund titles include Talk To Me (Danny and Michael Philippou, 2022), Hotel Mumbai (Anthony Maras, 2018), 52 Tuesdays (Sophie Hyde, 2013), Tracks (John Curran, 2013), Snowtown (Justin Kurzel, 2011), Samson and Delilah (Warwick Thornton, 2009), Ten Canoes (Rolf de Heer and Peter Djiggirr, 2005) and many more acclaimed films and moving image works.

About the films and filmmakers

Kangaroo Island 

Director: Timothy Piper
Type: Feature Fiction

Lou Wells has hit rock bottom after a promising start to a career in Hollywood. Her ex needs her to move out, her friends are distancing themselves from her and her talent agency “just isn’t excited by her anymore.” Truth is, Lou Wells isn’t excited about Lou Wells either. Broke and aimless, she reluctantly accepts a ticket from her estranged father, Rory, to go home to Kangaroo Island, Australia.

But what begins as a reunion to foster reconciliation turns complicated when Lou learns her father is terminally ill — and her born-again sister has plans to act against his final wishes. Years of tension come to the surface, and Lou must decide whether she will continue to run away from her problems or confront the traumatic events that tore her family apart. Production supported by the South Australian Film Corporation and Adelaide Film Festival.

Lesbian Space Princess

Directors: Emma Hough-Hobbs & Leela Varghese

Type: Feature Animation

Representing the film in Goes to Cannes: co-director, Leela Varghese

A space princess is thrust out of her sheltered life and into a galactic quest to save her bounty hunter ex-girlfriend from the Straight White Maliens. Introverted space princess Saira is devastated when she is unexpectedly dumped by her girlfriend Kiki for being needy. Deep in the depths of despair, Saira is thrown a lifeline when Kiki abruptly calls for help. Kiki has been kidnapped by forgotten incels known as the Straight White Maliens. Problem is, they’re holding her ransom for the one thing Saira doesn’t have: one of the most powerful weapons known to lesbian kind – her royal Labrys! Panicked and with just 24 hours on the clock, Saira sets out to save her ex in the hopes of winning her back. Along the way, a spaceship with a problematic personality and Willow, a runaway gay-pop idol, join Saira’s hazardous encounters with gloom goo, blade-wielding maniacs, dangerous dick turrets and the scariest thing of all: her own self-doubt.  Production supported by the South Australian Film Corporation, Adelaide Film Festival and Screen Australia’s Film Lab: New Voices initiative.

Mockbuster 

Director: Anthony Frith
Type: Feature Documentary

Representing the film in Goes to Cannes: writer/ producer, Sandy Cameron

If you’ve seen The Da Vinci Treasure, Atlantic Rim and Tom Invader, you have been tricked by The Asylum, a US-based production company responsible for producing ‘mockbusters’ — low-budget films created to exploit the publicity of upcoming major releases. The Asylum have agreed to let Anthony, whose once- promising career brimming with creative ambition has since dwindled into a soulless corporate grind, direct a mockbuster in Australia. With only a micro- budget and six-day shoot, Anthony must deliver 90 minutes of usable footage towards his debut feature, a challenge that will push him and his ragtag crew to their limits. Will Anthony finally be able to balance his artistic aspiration with commercial reality? Or will this destroy his career and creativity entirely?

The Iron Winter 

Director: Kasimir Burgess

Type: Feature Documentary

Representing the film in Goes to Cannes: producer Ben GolottaIn Mongolia’s coldest valley, horses mean life. But in the Iron Winter, nothing can survive alone. For countless generations, the herders of the Tsakhir Valley have protected their horses from ferocious arctic storms by amassing a giant winter herd, nominating their bravest young men to protect it. The daring tradition served as a brutal coming of age ritual, until five years ago, when under increasing environmental pressure, it abruptly ended. Fearful about the loss of culture, elders soon vowed to revive it. And two young friends were handed the daunting responsibility to not only protect the valley’s herd — but to save its most sacred practice. For four months, the boys battle Mongolia’s deadliest winter on record, testing friendship and faith in a fight to keep 2000 horses alive, and preserve an ancient way of life.

With or Without You 

Director: Kelly Schilling

Type: Feature Fiction

Representing the film in Goes to Cannes: director, Kelly Schilling

Chloe, 26, sets out to remove her entertaining but alcoholic mother Sharon from the claws of temptation, with plans to take them both to start new lives in idyllic Byron Bay. But when Chloe’s ex-boyfriend torches her caravan and everything in it, including her life savings, they find themselves on an unexpected road trip with a mysterious West African, Dalu, who’s also determined to make a better life for himself. Passions between Chloe and Dalu ignite, but Chloe resists. The last thing she wants is to follow in her mother’s footsteps by making repeated wrong choices in love. As the three embark on the road trip in Chloe’s rundown wagon, misconceptions, misunderstandings, and miscommunications along with humour, detours and wrong turns, lead to the realisation that facing your fears is the first step to freedom. Production supported by the South Australian Film Corporation and Adelaide Film Festival.

Delegates participating in Adelaide Film Festival Goes to Cannes 

Timothy Piper 

Timothy Piper is the producer and director of a feature film in post-production, Kangaroo Island set in South Australia. As the Producer Piper developed the material over two years, raised the financing, then attached the star talent, before attaching local South Australian producers and crew to make the film alongside Tim as director. South Australia is a place Tim now calls home after 20 years abroad. Kangaroo Island is a film that can and should promote Adelaide, South Australia and Australia as a film destination. It has an Australian theatrical distributor attached and will shortly be seeking an international sales agent. Tim produced and executive produced and directed in the US (New York) for over 15 years, winning the highest awards for films in advertising, including a Cannes Lions Grand Prix (x2).

Leela Varghese 

Leela Varghese (she/her) is a writer/director and musical comedian with a passion for joyful, diverse and impactful stories. Her queer comedy short, Crush, was a 2019 multi-award-winning Tropfest film. She directed the Screen Australia short, Science+ with over 100k views on Dust. Her award-winning comedy short Furbulous, was selected for Flickerfest 2023. Leela also directed the award-winning short, The Normals, currently in development with Stan for TV adaptation. Leela has an accomplished career in television, working as a presenter/segment producer for Totally Wild and Behind The News. She is co- director/writer for the feature film, Lesbian Space Princess, currently in production after being developed through the South Australian Film Corporation, Adelaide Film Festival and Screen Australia  Film Lab: New Voices initiative.

Sandy Cameron 

Sandy Cameron is an Australian Writers’ Guild award winning screenwriter and feature film producer. His work has screened at Sundance, Toronto, Venice and South By Southwest film festivals, streamed on Netflix, Stan and Binge and been remade in foreign languages. He has been nominated for an Australian Academy of Cinema and Television Arts Award and a company he co-founded has been nominated for Production Company of the Year by Screen Producers Australia. He has also worked extensively in screen funding agency and screen education roles, and is currently a Lecturer at UniSA. His notable credits include The Infinite Man (as producer, SXSW 2014), Sam Klemke’s Time Machine (as writer, Sundance 2015), and Boys In The Trees (as co-producer, Venice 2016).

Ben Golotta 

Ben Golotta is an Adelaide based director, producer and owner of Repeater Productions. Over the course of Repeater’s tenure, Ben has established himself as one of South Australia’s most exciting up and coming Producer/Directors. Whilst working on many short films, TVC’s and low-budget documentaries, The Iron Winter marks Ben’s first foray into feature producing, an achievement he hopes will show he and Repeater Productions has what it takes to be on the international stage.

Kelly Schilling 

Kelly Schilling is an Australian screenwriter and director who works across film, television and online series. In 2023, Kelly finished production on her debut feature film, With or Without You, with producers Su Armstrong and Carolyn Johnson attached. Starring Marta Dusseldorp, Melina Vidler and Albert Mwangi, With or Without You will premiere at the Adelaide Film Festival in October, 2024. Kelly has directed and written on two Netflix series in Australia, and was a writer and director on Network Nine’s Two Twisted series, produced by Aussie film Icon Bryan Brown, starring Sam Worthington and Susie Porter. She was attached to director Phillip Noyce on his feature production Catch a Fire, and has won and been nominated for a mix of awards for her short films and her screenplays. Kelly’s goal is to find the extraordinary within the ordinary and to bring universal, authentic stories to the screen that give audiences hope.

Other filmmakers to join the delegation 

Travis Akbar 

Travis is a Wongutha man based on Peramangk country in the Adelaide Hills. He was mentored in screenwriting by Hollywood-credited writer, Steph Lady and selected for AFTRS 2019/20 State and National Talent Camps and has been a finalist in several initiatives/awards. He was awarded a place in AiF’s Untapped, accepted into round two of the South Australian Film Corporation, Adelaide Film festival and Screen Australia’s prestigious Film Lab: New Voices program, awarded the Centralised First Nations Documentary Australia Fellowship and completed a Director’s Attachment on The Red. Travis has written/produced several documentaries for the NFP organisation Reconciliation SA, made the short documentary Eskatology: Being Me and directed the music video for Eskatology’s music clip ‘I’m Sorry’, which won Best Music Video in the Cinema Ticket International Film Festival. Travis wrote, directed, and co-produced the short film Tambo, which has played in 8 film festivals, premiering at SXSW Sydney 2023, and playing at Adelaide Film Festival and has won 2 x International Best Short Film Awards, and a Best Cinematography Award. In 2024 he developed the feature script Revelations with story consultant Pat Vurducci with development funds from Screen Australia and the South Australian Film Corporation, and the feature script Manhunt with Stuart Beattie with development funds from the South Australian Film Corporation. Travis was awarded funds to direct his black comedy short The Mysterious Maiden of Montefiores and attended Screen Forever as part of Broad Horizons, a Netflix x Screen Producers Australia Initiative. Travis has written for producers in five countries including the producers of Paul Schrader’s Oscar-nominated First Reformed, has written and sold two screenplays and has optioned four screenplays.

Nara Wilson 

Nara Wilson is a proud Wirangu, Kokatha and Larrakia woman who lives and works on Peramangk country in beautiful Mount Barker, South Australia. From 2018 – 2022 Nara implemented South Australia’s first and second First Nations Screen Strategy at the South Australian Film Corporation she then in 2022 – 2023 implemented the state’s inaugural First Nations Arts Strategy at Arts South Australia. In July 2023, Nara returned to being an emerging Creative Producer and is currently an Associate Producer at Vishus Productions working across their slate of TV and feature animation projects. Nara is also the Company Director of BiRiny where her passion lies and is focused on producing First Nations animation and documentary stories for the screen.

Josh Trevorrow

Josh Trevorrow is a proud Ngarrindjeri man. His father was a survivor of the stolen generation. His mandate is to champion First Nations talent. Josh was attached to feature film Mortal Kombat and hasproduced and co-directed short documentary films Keep Yarning Strong and Kondoli. His project Blak Coffee was selected for Screen Australia/SBS Digital Originals development initiative in November 2024. Josh has a slate of scripted and non-scripted projects in development, for Untold Productions and has recently commenced early development on a multi-year feature-length factual project of significant historical and cultural importance for the Ngarrindjeri people. He participated in the most recent round of the South Australian Film Corporation, Adelaide Film Festival and Screen Australia’s Film Lab: New Voices initiative, as a producer. Josh has also worked as a short film programmer, including for the Art Gallery of South Australia and for Country Arts SA/Nunga Screen.

Lisa Scott 

Lisa Scott is one of Australia’s leading producers and founder of Highview Productions. A multi-award winning producer, her recent productions include the hybrid feature documentary Speedway, which previewed at Adelaide Film Festival 2023, along with the short film Blame The Rabbit which premiered on opening night and shared the audience award for Best Short Film, the hit series The Tourist (Stan, BBC1 and HBO Max) smashing ratings records on BBC in 2022 and winning 3 awards at the Monte Carlo Television Festival, including Best Series, and A Sunburnt Christmas for Stan. Other award nominated productions include The Hunting (SBS), Pine Gap (Netflix/ABC), ANZAC Girls (ABC) and three seasons of Janet King (ABC). Lisa has two features in development: Desert Fish to be directed by Wayne Blair, currently in script development funded by Screen Australia, and Dearly Departed to be directed by Luke Rynderman based on an original concept written by Luke and Michael Mackenzie. Lisa was recently selected to be part of the AiF/Screen Australia initiative Global Producers Exchange.

Matt Vesley 

Matt Vesely is a South Australian writer and director, working across TV & Film. Matt works as a story producer, writer and development executive with award- winning South Australian collective Closer Productions. Matt’s latest short, System Error (AFF Investment Fund 2020), was selected for the 2020 Tribeca Film Festival and opened the 2021 St Kilda Film Festival. His directorial feature debut, the science fiction thriller Monolith (AFF Investment Fund 2022), was the inaugural film to come out of the South Australian Film Corporation, Adelaide Film Festival and Screen Australia Film Lab: New Voices initiative, which was selected to have its international premiere at South By South West in 2023. He is represented by XYZ Films in the US and HLA Management Australia.

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