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The project credited with bringing acting legend Ben Mendelsohn back home for the first time in nine years has secured the Australian industry’s only feature film placement at the 2019 Venice Film Festival. Director Shannon Murphy’s Babyteeth, a bittersweet rom-com/drama about a seriously ill teenage girl and the drug dealer she falls for, will face off against new works from Brad Pitt, Roman Polanski, Scarlett Johansson, Olivier Assayas, Joaquin Phoenix and Steven Soderbergh on The Lido in the prestigious festival’s In Competition strand.

Adapted by Rita Kalnejais’ from her own hit play and representing the debut feature for experienced television helmer Murphy, Babyteeth was produced by Alex White and executive produced by Oscar-nominated producer Jan Chapman (The Piano, 1993). Australian distribution was picked up by Universal Pictures Australia as part of their acquisition of Entertainment One (eOne); international sales are through Celluloid Dreams.

The Venice selection marks a stellar debut for White’s development and production company Whitefalk Films, who launched their feature slate with Babyteeth after the success of their shorts Trespass (Best Australian Short Film, MIFF 2017) and Florence Has Left the Building (Best Short Film, Australian Academy of Cinema & Television Arts Awards 2015). Also on board as financing entities are Screen Australia in association with Create NSW, and Spectrum Films.

Mendelsohn (pictured, top) stars opposite Essie Davis as Henry and Anna Finlay, the over-protective parents of gravely sick Milla (Eliza Scanlen). When their daughter becomes enamored with a local drug dealer (Toby Wallace) and begins living her waning life to its fullest potential, Henry and Anna’s life takes on a newly energized perspective.

Babyteeth is the latest high-profile project for 20 year-old Scanlen (pictured, right), who scored big opposite Amy Adams in the mini-series Sharp Objects and will next be seen as ‘Beth March’ in Greta Gerwig’s fresh look at Louisa May Alcott’s Little Women, alongside Timothée Chalamet, Meryl Streep, Emma Watson and Saoirse Ronan.

Also set to premiere at Venice is the short The Diver, from directors Michael Leonard and Jamie Helmer, as well as two virtual reality short films - Callum Cooper's Porton Down and the migrant experience vision, Passenger, from co-directors Isobel Knowles and Van Sowerwine.

While Babyteeth is the only Australian feature to earn a screening berth at Venice (and one of only two films in competition that are directed by women), other homegrown talent Lido-bound include director David Michod, who will debut his latest Netflix-backed title The King, and Nicole Kidman, co-star of Stanley Kubrick’s 1999 work Eyes Wide Shut, which will feature as a Special Screening alongside Matt Wells’ doco Never Just a Dream: Stanley Kubrick And Eyes Wide Shut.

The full list of the 2019 Venice Film Festival’s IN COMPETITION titles are:

The Truth (Kore-eda Hirokazu; France/Japan) – OPENING FILM
The Perfect Candidate (Haifaa Al-Mansour; Saudi Arabia/Germany)
About Endlessness (Roy Andersson; Sweden)
Wasp Network (Olivier Assayas; France/Belgium)
Marriage Story (Noah Baumbach; U.S.)
Guest of Honor (Atom Egoyan; Canada)
Ad Astra (James Gray; U.S.)
A Herdade (Tiago Guedes; Portugal/France)
Gloria Mundi (Robert Guediguian; France)
Waiting for the Barbarians (Ciro Guerra; Italy)
Ema, (Pablo Larrain; Chile)
Saturday Fiction (Lou Ye; China)
Martin Eden (Pietro Marcello; Italy/France/Germany)
La Mafia non è più quella di Una Volta (Franco Maresco; Italy)
The Painted Bird (Vaclav Marhoul; Czech Republic)
The Mayor of Rione Sanità (Mario Martone; Italy/France)
Babyteeth (Shannon Murphy; Australia)
Joker (Todd Philips; U.S.)
An Officer and a Spy (Roman Polanski; France)
The Laundromat (Steven Soderbergh; U.S.)
No. 7 Cherry Lane (Yonfan; China)

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