The Birds of Healing; Hugo Weaving Berlin pics; The Turning and The Mule Secure Int’l Distribution


Since my last entry, several new interviews, reviews and promotional pieces for The Healing have been made available. The most in-depth of these focus on what many viewers are calling the film’s “real stars”, its birds of prey (and their handler, Andrew Payne.)

Pinnacle Films continues its lovely series of promotional clips with this 12-minute profile of Payne and the birds he worked with for the film:

Pinnacle Films Facebook

720 ABC Perth‘s John McGlue, who conducted the best of the Hugo Weaving interviews connected with this film, went to the Karnet Prison Farm for an extended interview with director Craig Monahan (and others who worked on/were consulted for the film) to discuss the real-life bird/prisoner rehab programs that inspired the film. (You can hear the birds chattering away in the background.) At Dusk/Greg King features another in-depth, very interesting interview with Craig Monahan (35 minutes long!). There’s a brief Don Hany interview at In My Community.  And scene-stealer Mark Leonard Winter (and the film’s rats) finally get a profile of their own courtesy Moviehole.

Here are excerpts from the latest batch of reviews (including links back to original sites):

Kirstey Whicker, Glam Adelaide: “The latest film by Director Craig Monaghan (The Interview, 1998), Healing, is a powerful outdoor drama that shows the healing influences of animals which go beyond the traditional rehabilitation techniques for prisoners…

This is a magnificently shot film. Academy Award winning cinematographer Andrew Lesnie (Lord of the Rings trilogy) has used spectacular shots of the birds soaring over the Victorian fields, almost taking the attention of the actors!… 8.5 out of 10”

Don Hany, Hugo Weaving in a scene from Healing (Photo: Cairns Post)

Giles Hardie, “The performances by all are excellent… Healing is not a prison film; there are no shivs or beatings. It is not a bleak rumination on the imprisoned spirit. And it is not given extra credit for being an Australian film as it is dissimilar to any in recent memory. It is an inspiring, intelligent and soaringly gorgeous feel-good movie that will reward all who see it on the big screen.”

Mandy Griffiths, Moviehole: “The film unites Hugo Weaving and director Craig Monahan (“The Interview”) for the third time, and it is hard to think of another film where he is so understated and relaxed in his role. His performance is pitch perfect for the gruff but caring authoritarian figure, providing real heart and understanding to a character struggling with his own personal tragedy, without verging too far into sentimental land. Indeed all the performances are natural and pleasing, with relative newcomer Mark Leonard Winter standing out for his distinct take on character surviving at the bottom of the food chain.”

Mad Dog Bradley, Rip It Up: “And it’s hard to know which are more engaging here: the subtle performances from the cast, especially Hany, or the birds themselves, shown in all their feathery glory and with only the barest minimum of FX or trickery. But perhaps it doesn’t matter, as both help make Monahan’s film soar.”

Peter W Sheehan, (also in CathNews):: “[Hugo] Weaving captures brilliantly the conflicts involved in being someone in authority who cares for others, but has the responsibility for disciplining them as well…

This is a hope-filled film that has a dramatic tale of redemption to tell. It is entertaining, enjoyable, and educational, and there is a moving truth to its telling that is memorable. So far this year, this is the best Australian movie to come down the cinema track.”

Cairns Post has printed one of the most enthusiastic reviews for the film; you can read the online version here, but I’ve embedded the print version below because it included a nice, big film still featuring Hugo’s character. (WordPress users: right-click image, then click “open in a new tab/window” for full-sized article)

Here’s an ad for Healing that’s run in several Australian newspapers:

While Hugo Weaving has been avoiding the spotlight since participating in Healing interviews and photo sessions at the beginning of the month, a few not-too-old pics of him promoting another Australian indie film (Tim Winton’s The Turning) have surfaced courtesy the Australian Embassy in Berlin, Germany’s Facebook page. These photos of Hugo with Australian Ambassador to Germany David Ritchie at an Australian Embassy Berlinale party back on 11 February:

Cannes Yields Distribution Deals For Tim Winton’s The Turning, The Mule

Several of Hugo Weaving’s recent films (completed and in post-production) are in the mix at this year’s Cannes Film Festival, though none are being formally screened. Instead, they’re being shopped for international distribution deals. Two films have already secured new or additional distribution in the first few days of the festival:

According to Screen International, LevelK will finally oversee Tim Winton’s The Turning’s US distribution in partnership with Main Street Films.  Yes, the film was released seven months ago in Australia, and many of us already own the Australian DVD or Blu-Ray… but the film’s complex vision and visual grandeur surely deserve cinema screenings, and I hope the distributors are serious in achieving those. I’m sure they’ll also work out various VOD/Cable/Streaming deals, but that shouldn’t be the whole strategy. (According to the article,  “The film has also sold to Russia/CIS (Russian Report), Benelux (FilmFreak), Turkey (Bir), China (JY) and airlines (Cinesky). Madman released in Australia.” It also screened in New Zealand last fall and, of course, at Berlinale. Its US premiere will be at this year’s Seattle International Film Festival May 25, 26 and 29. (Mystery Road and Healing will also screen at SIFF, so Hugo fans on the US west coast might want to plan the trip.)

Getting much more attention (which should tell you something about the tone of most movie sites, heh heh) is The Mule’s quick sale to a bunch of international markets, including ” US (XLrator Media), Germany (MFA), Switzerland (Ascot Elite), Greece (Filmtrade) and the former Yugoslavia (VIP Media)” according to Screen Daily, which broke the story.  Deadline, and many other sites detailed the US distribution deal with XLRator Media, which is tentatively scheduling a fall release for the film.  Coverage has been replete with the usual bodily-function puns. 😉

Strangerland is also being shopped around at Cannes, but as of 17 May no deals have been announced.

And speaking of international distribution, why is Well Go USA dragging its heels on Mystery Road’s US distribution? They secured the rights a long time ago, but thusfar all they’ve done is book a handful of more festival screenings. Better news for UK audiences, as Mystery Road’s Facebook page announced a possible June release there.

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