Australia and Ireland Partnering on Film

With the imminent release of Strangerland, Glen Falkenstein takes a look at the production partnership between Ireland and Australia.

Co-operation between the Irish and Australian film industries is set to reach a milestone this year, with the release of Strangerland following on the back of various co-productions between the two countries.

Supported by Screen Australia and the Irish Film Board, Strangerland follows a couple (Nicole Kidman and Joseph Fiennes) whose children disappear in the Australian desert right before a massive dust storm arrives at their town. Hugo Weaving (The Matrix) plays the policeman charged with bringing them home.

Co-written by Irish screenwriter Michael Kinirons, the production was filmed in various locations in rural Australia, including Canowindra, a town with a population of about 2,000. Producer Macdara Kelleher commented, “It’s great to be able to bring such talented Irish crew including cinematographer P J Dillon, sound recordist Rob Flanagan… as well as many others, as part of the Irish-Australian co-production.”

Strangerland screened at the Sundance Film Festival earlier this year and will see its Australian premiere at the upcoming Sydney Film Festival in June.

Co-operation between the two industries has not been limited to productions but has also included cultural exchanges. Earlier this year, the inaugural Irish Film Festival took place in Sydney to great success and looks set to continue next year. The festival, which featured a number of Australian premieres, screened An Dubh Ina Gheal (Assimilation), which explored the existence of Indigenous Irish Australians and the dispossession of Australia’s Indigenous population.

In 1998, both Ireland and Australia signed a co-production treaty to help foster film and television projects, including drama, documentary and animation features.

Strangerland is not the only Irish production to premiere at the Sydney Film Festival – Song of the Sea, a hand-drawn animation feature inspired by Celtic folklore will be screened multiple times throughout the festival’s 12-day run. Nominated for Best Animated Feature at this year’s Oscars, Tomm Moore’s latest, according to the festival organisers, still weeks away from its June start date, will be one of the first films to sell out.

On Film Ireland