The youth focused Generation sidebar of the Berlin Film Festival has been a significant launching place for Australian films, awards having been won by The Black Balloon in 2008 and the short Lily in 2011. The Rocket (pictured), directed by Kim Mordaunt and funded by Screen Australia, is the story of a Lao boy who leads his family across war-torn Laos to the dangerous Rocket Festival. The indigenous feature Satellite Boy marks director Catriona McKenzie's feature debut (her credits include two episodes of Redfern Now) and stars David Gulpilil as the grandfather of a young boy trying to save his home.


Samson and Delilah director Warwick Thornton will return to the fold of feature films with The Darkside, an indigenous-themed ghost story that will explore "the threshold of two worlds - one of everyday reality and the other of spirits, demons and entities". It is one of five features to get the backing of Screen Australia at its final meeting of 2012. The others are Cut Snake, with Tony Ayres directing his first feature since 2007's Home Song Stories, Fell from producers John Maynard and Bridget Ikin, Kill Me Three Times, a new feature from director Kriv Stenders (Red Dog), and Now Add Honey, which Wayne Hope and Robyn Butler - the husband and wife comedy team behind ABC TV's The Librarians and Very Small Business - will respectively direct and write. The pair also have a new project for the ABC, Upper Middle Bogan, due to screen next year.


Given the respective followings that Truman Capote and Michael Hutchence have cultivated, one would think there's sufficient market interest in more than one film and TV project about the late singer and his band INXS, as there was for the writer, who was the subject of rival biopics Capote and Infamous years back. Director Richard Lowenstein and producer Sue Murray are well into developing the feature, Michael, which has received script funding from Screen Australia and has the added clout of Lowenstein's close involvement with the band, having made their film clips and cast the mercurial Hutchence in his film Dogs in Space (Michael Hutchence and Saskia Post pictured). Los Angeles-based entertainment agency APA has also signed a deal with Hutchence's former personal manager Martha Troupe to develop a Broadway musical, while last month Melbourne-based producer Robert Galinsky trumpeted he had the rights to the book Just A Man, by Hutchence's sister, Tina, and late mother Patricia Glassop. All of these projects look like being pipped at the post by a two-part, four-hour miniseries Never Tear Us Apart: The Untold Story of INXS, to be made by the Seven Network and Shine Australia with the band's manager CM Murphy on board as executive producer. It promises to "have access to the INXS archive of music, photography and stories . . . and appearances by actors playing Kylie Minogue, Helena Christensen, Bono and Paula Yates . . . and the remarkable music of INXS".


The University of Melbourne's Filmmaking Summer School returns for its 19th year from January 7 to February 1. The course can be taken in full (19 days), as an introductory 13-day course or on a daily basis, and broadly covers the topics Script to Screen, Cinematography, Documentary and Steadicam. Instructors include the noted director Nadia Tass, screenwriter Mac Gudgeon, cinematographer Ellery Ryan, composer Cezary Skubiszewski and sound editor Craig Carter.

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