Australian filmmaker Jonathan Teplitzky is working on a sequel to his 2003 crime comedy Gettin’ Square – one of five features to receive a share of $4.6m (A$6.9m) in production funding from national body Screen Australia.
The latest round of funding will also support Kriv Stenders’ The Correspondent; Cathy Randall’s Red Rock Run; Kate Woods’ Kangaroo; and Nicholas Clifford’s One More Shot.
Teplitzky’s Spit will mark the return of David Wenham as ex-junkie John Spitieri, who travels back to Australia only to find himself locked in an immigration detention centre and on the radar of old enemies.
Writer Chris Nyst and producer Trish Lake will also return for the sequel alongside producers Greg Duffy, Felicity McVay and Wenham.
Lake told Screen: “David [Wenham] was pivotal in us keeping going because, of all his 150 [film and theatre] roles, the one that continues to be best loved and the one he hears about most frequently is that of Spit.”
Writer Nyst is a high-profile criminal lawyer and social justice advocate based on Queensland’s Gold Coast, where the film will be shot, most likely in the second quarter of 2024.
It is financed in association with Screen Queensland. Local distribution is by Transmission Films and international sales are managed by Moviehouse Entertainment. Transmission Films plans to re-issue Gettin’ Square before releasing Spit. Universal and Working Title Australia were among those that produced and distributed the original, which has not been available locally for several years.
UK-based Teplitzky is also known for directing The Railway Man, which premiered at Toronto in 2013, and historic drama Churchill, which starred Brian Cox and was released in 2017,
The Correspondent will tell the true story of Australian journalist Peter Greste, who was one of three Al Jazeera employees arrested and imprisoned in Cairo in 2013, accused of terrorism. Director Stenders is known for award-winning 2011 feature Red Dog, which took more than $13.4m (A$20m) at the local box office.
“We are making a scripted work that is about … what happens to an ordinary person who gets caught in unimaginable circumstances,” says producer Carmel Travers. “That, of itself, is a very dramatic through line, and Peter Greste has been so generous and so involved every step of the way.”
The script has been written by Peter Duncan and filming is set to begin in a few weeks. It is financed in association with Screen NSW with support from Jovial Planet Productions, Spectrum Films, Dreamlight Studio and the Adelaide Film Festival Investment Fund. Maslow Entertainment is distributing locally, with Moviehouse Entertainment managing international sales.
Randall’s Red Rock Run is a family feature set in 1978, which follows a 10-year-old girl who defies her father to enters the first kids’ team to run a gruelling 120km outback marathon race.
Written by Meg Shields and produced by Miriam Stein, the feature is financed in association with Screenwest and Lotterywest, Screen NSW and Spectrum Entertainment. Icon Film Distribution is handling local distribution, with international sales managed by Parkland Pictures.
As previously announced, Studiocanal is handling outback family feature Kangaroo while Clifford’s debut One More Shot was named best project at Melbourne International Film Festival’s 37º South Market in 2022.
Second seasons of Last King Of The Cross for Paramount+ and ABC/BBC kids series Spooky Files were also awarded a share of the Screen Australia production funding alongside documentary series Cooking For Seamus and sci-fi comedy series Descent for YouTube, comedy animation series Long Head for TikTok and virtual reality project Heroes.