TWELVE DAYS OF CINE-MAS
A traditional festive countdown, reflecting upon my 2016 movie-watching moments...
ELEVEN NEW STARS RISING
World cinema drew upon a vast artistic community in the search for bright, fresh bigscreen talent. The worlds of live theatre, music, art and writing all contributed to a new generation of extraordinary movie contributors, who lit up the screen in 2016…
SASHA LANE (ACTRESS, AMERICAN HONEY)
Breakout Moment: Donning a bikini and hitting the beach in Miami. She was seen by director Andrea Arnold, shortlisted and cast in the lead role.
On working with the American Honey director: “We just kind of connected on a lot of things. She just saw me, she really looked at me. I’m so used to being just like all the other kids, just discarded and seen as not worthy of someone’s time, not worthy of being considered special and beautiful and different. She embraced all of that.” IndieWire
ROYALTY HIGHTOWER (ACTRESS, THE FITS)
Breakout Moment: The New York Times photo essay, that posits her alongside Denzel Washington, Casey Affleck, Natalie Portman, Don Cheadle and Taraji P Henson as one of the Great Actors of 2016.
On the start that would lead to her casting in the dance drama: “I used to always go to my sister’s practices because she was already on a team. They were doing a parade and their coach asked me to hold the banner and we just walked down the street holding it. I told her I didn’t want to hold the banner anymore. I said I wanted to dance, so she put me in the back of the parade and I was just dancing. After the parade, she told me to come back. I just kept coming back.” IndieWire
ALEX LEHMANN (DIRECTOR, BLUE JAY; pictured, left)
Breakout Moment: Being selected by indie-sector champion and the film’s scriptwriter Mark Duplass to step up from camera operator to direct Blue Jay.
On script development with Duplass: “Mark being a writer and a producer on this, as well as an actor, I knew that I wanted to go off of his gut as far as what the story was, and we definitely collaborated a lot as far as making sure that we felt like the performances were honest.” SagIndie.Org
DAMIEN POWER (DIRECTOR, KILLING GROUND)
Breakout Moment: After a long writing process, distribution dramas and funding negotiations, the thriller earns an Australian premiere at the Melbourne International Film Festival.
On the outdoor shoot: “It's entirely set outdoors, and it rained a lot. It's set in the bush in the middle of nowhere, so it was a matter of trying to find the middle of nowhere as close to Sydney as we could. And we found this fantastic reserve in Macquarie Fields that had everything, because it wasn't just a look we were after but a very specific geography that I wanted for the film." If.com.au
MAHERSHALA ALI (ACTOR, MOONLIGHT)
Breakout Moment: Settling on the part in Barry Jenkins’ autobiographical film, as the film to follow-up his role on HBO’s House of cards.
On deciding to accept the culturally sensitive role of drug-dealer Juan: “As a black man, it’s very difficult for you to feel good about contributing in that way…enabling and supporting certain stereotypes. (But) with this, it’s a project that is written from the inside out, people who have had these experiences and know these people as full human beings. With both Barry and Tarell being very talented writers, they can’t help but write characters that are three-dimensional.” Deadline.com
LEVI MILLER (ACTOR, RED DOG TRUE BLUE and SAFE NEIGHBORHOOD)
Breakout Moment: Being cast in 2015’s Pan, opposite Hugh Jackman which, despite a dismal box office run, got him noticed by the Australian and American industries.
Pan casting director Dixie Chassay: "There was something about him where we just said, 'That's it.' It's very tricky. You need someone who has to be special but also that every child has to connect to. It has to be someone both ordinary and extraordinary. And Levi had that." Los Angeles Times
RUBY BARNHILL (ACTRESS, THE BFG),
Breakout Moment: Fronting the global media following the premiere of her first film, directed by Steven Spielberg.
On working with the great director: “People always ask me if I’m in awe of him, but to me he’s just Steven, a really good friend. Someday I will probably look back and think, ‘Wow, I shared my birthday cake with Steven Spielberg,’ but I think of him as a lovely kind person, not a remote star.” Telegraph.co.uk
BABAK ANVARI (DIRECTOR, UNDER THE SHADOWS)
Breakout Moment: Securing the final funding for what would become Iran’s first official horror film release.
On the films that inspired him: “I think when it comes to getting inspired by films, it’s not about sitting there and saying, ‘I want to take this. I want to take that.’ You basically watch the film and let it affect you, and however it affects you, you keep that in mind and try to do similar things. So it’s about using those elements but making them your own. It’s really hard for me to tell what I got from The Tenant or Repulsion or Rosemary’s Baby. It was just the general mood of it and the whole idea of everything being set in an apartment.” Film Comment
ODESSA YOUNG (ACTRESS, THE DAUGHTER)
Breakout Moment: Her Best Actress AACTA award for her first movie role.
On her first encounter with her character, Hedvig: “It is really rare that you read female teenage characters that have complexity and depth to their personalities. When I read the script the first time, I was entirely blown away by this character I was reading which I actually had to think about. I had to try and analyse who Hedvig was rather than it be spelt out in front of me.” Girl.com.au
GARANCE MARILLIER (ACTRESS, RAW)
Breakout Moment: The ‘finger scene,’ destined to become an iconic horror film sequence.
On working with director Julia Ducornau: “Julia and I have exactly the same strong character. There is a very friendly and symbiotic relationship between us (which) always helps in a collaboration like ours. We do not need to talk for hours to understand and very soon we know what the other expects. Everything is simpler so obviously it makes you want to continue working together.” Cinema Club (France)
FERDIA WALSH-PEELO (ACTOR, SING STREET)
Breakout Moment: Meeting with director John Carney (Once; Begin Again).
On acting for the first time: “I was a musician who didn’t act (laughs). John (Carney, director) cast me in the film and I’d never acted before. I’d done a few stage things, I was a boy soprano when I was younger, so I did a few operas. I was so driven with music I never had time to think about anything else. Then I got Sing Street and I started really adding to the whole acting thing.” IndieRevolver.com