Josh Lawson in the short flim The Eleven O’Clock Photo: NoneThe first of Melbourne writer Carole Wilkinson’s six Dragonkeeper children’s fantasy novels is to become an animated film.
An ambitious co-production between Spain and China, announced at the Beijing Film Fair, is to be directed by Ignacio Ferreras (Wrinkles) and co-directed by Zhang Bo. It is being seen as the first movie in an international franchise.
Set in ancient China during the Han dynasty, the novel centres on a slave girl named Ping who journeys across the country with the last imperial dragon while pursued by a ruthless hunter.
“I am thrilled that Dragonkeeper is being made into a movie, and especially pleased that there is such strong Chinese involvement, ensuring that the ancient China represented in the movie will be authentic,” Wilkinson said in a statement.
The animation will be carried out in Illion Animation Studios in Spain and by China Film Animation and several studios in China.
Chinese films headed this way
The Dragonkeeper deal is not the only new Australian connection to Chinese film. A visit by an Australian delegation to Beijing has triggered a slew of announcements about films that will shoot in this country.
One is the Australian-Chinese co-production At Last, about a Beijing couple who find themselves caught in an art heist while visiting Australia. It is written and directed by Yiwei Liu, with casting underway for a shoot in Queensland that is expected to start in mid-July.
Sydney Films has also announced a slate of 14 films that are being developed as Chinese-Australian co-productions, with Dalei Guo’s comedy A Trip to Australia, about three aspiring rock’n’roll musicians who accidentally end up in Australia, and Once Upon A Time In The Northeast, a comedy about a former child star and an animator who accidentally make a hit film, expected to shoot in NSW later this year.
They follow the Chinese-Australian co-production Guardians of the Tomb, formerly Nest, which shot in Queensland, and the Jackie Chan film Bleeding Steel, which shot in Sydney.
St Kilda’s Palais ready for festival
The newly restored Palais Theatre will be ready to host the St Kilda Film Festival next month.
Ten days of screenings will be the first event in the historic venue after refurbishment, with more than 2700 guests expected on the red carpet on May 18.
Festival director Paul Harris has announced a program that includes, in the top 100 short film competition, Derin Seale’s comedy The Eleven O’Clock, starring Josh Lawson and Damon Herriman in a story about a psychiatrist and a delusional patient; and Dave Carter’s comic animation Fish with Legs, voiced by Frank Woodley and Barry Otto and centring on a school of fish who grow legs.
The SoundKILDA program will feature music videos from the likes of Courtney Barnett, Client Liaison and Lisa Mitchell.
The Australian arm of multinational entertainment company Live Nation took on the restoration work after winning a tender for the long-term lease of the iconic theatre.