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 The World of Film in Australia - on the Internet Updated Monday June 15, 2020 

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New Aussie love/power triangle drama, The Tender Hook, starring Hugo Weaving, Rose Byrne and Pia Miranda, written and directed by Jonathan Ogilvie, will have its Australian premiere at this year’s (second) Dungog Film Festival on Friday May 30, with the cast and director arriving in a vintage 1920 Dodge, and the street filled with other vintage cars, followed by a 1920s night, to match the film’s period setting. (Hugo is overseas shooting The Wolf Man with Anthony Hopkins, Emily Blunt and Benicio del Toro.)

The story is about the rise to the apex of a love/power triangle by Iris (Rose Byrne) that includes her roguish English lover, McHeath (Hugo Weaving) and Art (Matthew Le Nevez), an earnest young boxer. Within the flawed moral landscape, each character struggles to establish their sovereignty.

Made for a sizeable $10 million and shot by Geoffrey Simpson, the film is designed by Pete Baxter and edited by Ken Sallows. Chris Abrahams composed the score.

Jonathan Ogilvie’s previous film, Emuslion (2006) was screened at both the Brisbane International Film Festival and the Cinema des Antipodes in St Tropez. His 2001 short feature, Jet Set, was sold to SBS TV and screened at the Adelaide Fringe.

Ogilvie says of his film, “In relationship to its surrounding universe the world of The Tender Hook is like a spotlighted boxing ring; outside the perimeter of the ropes, detail and visual information drops away. Rather than being a re-creation of Australia’s past The Tender Hook is, to use a Miles Davis-ism, a yesternow tale. This approach in most explicit when McHeath (Hugo Weaving) sings Jazz Age arrangements of Leonard Cohen and Bob Dylan songs and in the use of colourised archival footage from the period. I love the idea of temporal playfulness in Iris (Rose Byrne) and Art (Matt Le Nevez) walking with long dead pedestrians.”

Two world premieres have already been confirmed for Dungog: The Nothing Men (the first Australian feature to be shot on the Red camera) and Honeymoon in Kabul. Two other features, The Line and closing night film and Tribeca sleeper hit Bitter & Twisted, will also enjoy their Australian premieres at the festival, which is devoted exclusively to Australian films. This year it is screening some 80 features, docos and shorts, making it possibly the world’s biggest single showcase of Australian filmmaking. The small Upper Hunter Valley (NSW) town also boasts the country’s oldest running movie theatre, the James, where the festival is centred. Founder and director Allanah Zitserman has wrangled a long list of sponsors and supporters to make the festival viable, and the inaugural event attracted hundreds of filmmakers and locals.

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Rose Byrne and Hugo Weaving in The Tender Hook

Dungog Film Festival 2008 Preview

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