Five Australian projects selected for Toronto International Film Festival 2022

Screen Australia congratulates the creative teams behind the five extraordinary Australian projects that have been selected for the 47th Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF), which will be held from 8 -18 September. Feature films Blueback and Carmen will have their world premieres at the festival, while Sweet As, We Are Still Here and TV series Mystery Road: Origin will make their international premieres.

Screen Australia’s CEO Graeme Mason said, “A huge congratulations to the projects selected for this year’s program, demonstrating the wealth of talent we have here and the appetite for Australian stories around the world. It’s particularly special to have three projects offering First Nations perspectives showcased on a world stage, including the unique anthology We Are Still Here. We also know that TIFF has a history launching the careers of many first time Australian directors so we’re thrilled to see Jub Clerc’s debut feature Sweet As along with Dylan River’s first long-form series Mystery Road: Origin making their international debuts. And to have three such distinct films selected from Arenamedia – Blueback, Emily and Sweet As – is a real coup for the team and the Australian industry.”

Written and directed by Robert Connolly, Blueback is based on the best-selling novel by Tim Winton. Set on the coast of Western Australia, this timely, family-friendly film centres on Abby, a child who befriends a magnificent wild blue groper while diving and stars a host of Australian acting talent including Mia Wasikowska, Radha Mitchell, Liz Alexander, Clarence Ryan, Pedrea Jackson, Erik Thomson and Eric Bana as well as newcomers Ariel Donoghue and Ilsa Fogg.

Blueback writer/director Robert Connolly said, “I’m thrilled to have been invited to premiere Blueback in Toronto. The festival has been a special place for me since it hosted the premiere of my first feature The Bank over 20 years ago. I can’t wait to share Blueback with audiences at TIFF – the film’s sweeping cinematic scale and message of hope for our oceans are perfectly suited to this prestigious festival.”

Sweet As, the debut feature of Nyul Nyul / Yawuru director Jub Clerc, will have its international premiere in the Discovery section, hot on the heels of last week’s world premiere at MIFF. The film is also premiering at CinefestOz later this month, where it will compete for the festival’s coveted Film Prize. A coming-of-age road movie seen through the eyes of a young Indigenous girl who embarks on a life changing photo safari through Western Australia’s stunning outback landscapes, Sweet As is inspired by Clerc’s own journey to becoming a filmmaker and is an effervescent story of growth, acceptance and the journey towards finding oneself.

Sweet As writer/director Jub Clerc said, “It was such an honour to hear that Sweet As was selected to have its International Premiere at the 2022 Toronto International Film Festival. We are so grateful to Jason Ryle – International Programmer, Indigenous Cinema, for including us in this year’s festival lineup and I look forward to meeting all the deadly Indigenous filmmakers and wonderful guests at this prestigious festival.”

After making its world premiere as the opening film at this year’s Sydney Film Festival as well as screening at MIFF and Whānau Mārama New Zealand International Film Festival, We Are Still Here will make its international debut at TIFF in the Contemporary World Cinema section. An Offical Co-production between Australia and New Zealand, We Are Still Here is a unique First Nations anthology feature film that interweaves eight powerful tales from 10 directors from Australia, New Zealand and the South Pacific to tell a sweeping story of hope and survival.

We Are Still Here producers Mitchell Stanley, Toni Stowers and Mia Henry Teirney said, “The filmmakers are honoured to launch the World Premiere of We Are Still Here at the 47th annual Toronto International Film Festival. We are incredibly proud to share our story of survival, love and kinship, and to celebrate the strength and resilience of Indigenous people from Australia, Aotearoa, and the global indigenous community. Filmmaking is an amazing privilege. We feel a responsibility to amplify the voices of indigenous storytellers, and encourage others to do so as well. Thank you to TIFF for this incredible opportunity to represent our people; past, present and future generations to come.”

Making its international premiere in the Primetime section is television series Mystery Road: Origin. Directed by Dylan River and filmed in Western Australia, the drama delves into the early years of Mystery Road fan favourite Detective Jay Swan with proud Nyikina man Mark Coles Smith cast as Young Jay.

Mystery Road: Origin director Dylan River said, “I am proud to be premiering Mystery Road: Origin at TIFF, as we prepare for the North American release of our series. My first short film Nulla Nulla played at the festival in 2015, it feels fitting that my first attempt at long form series go there too. Australia’s first nations peoples and those of Canada share a very similar story of colonisation, today there are direct parallels of intergenerational trauma and the extreme disadvantages faced. Through our shared stories, we hope to bring attention to these issues and continue to heal.”

Also hosting its world premiere as part of the festival’s Discovery section, Carmen is an Official Co-production between Australia and France and is a modern day retelling of one of history’s most famous love stories and operas. Starring Melissa Barrera and Paul Mescal, the film is co-written by world-renowned choreographer and dancer, Ben Millepied and marks his debut as a feature director.

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