Similarities abound between David Michod’s Sundance-winning Animal Kingdom and Justin Kurzel’s feature film debut, Snowtown. Both are directorial debuts. Both are Australian. Both exist in the realm of true crime. Both look gritty yet restrained and simmer with impending doom. Both feature vulnerable teenagers played by non-actors. And as of today, both have been heralded by the most prestigious film festivals in the world. Based on real life atrocities committed by John Bunting aka Australia’s most notorious serial killer, Snowtown is told through the eyes of 16 year old James Vlassakis – the son of Bunting’s wife Elizabeth, eventual accomplice and alleged sexual abuse victim who had a monster for a father figure. Inspired by the books ‘Killing for Pleasure’ by Debbie Marshall and ‘The Snowtown Murders’ by Andrew McGarry, the film was penned by Shaun Grant and produced by Anna McLeish and Sarah Shaw for Warp Films Australia, the local offshoot of Warp’s movie arms. Yep, that Warp (they’re developing Ariel Kleiman’s feature film debut too).
“It’s a great honour that Snowtown has been invited to screen in Critics’ Week at Cannes and I am proud that all the wonderful work the cast and crew put into the film will be seen by an international audience,” Kurzel said.
Bumping the Cannes Aussie contingent to two, Kurzel joins fellow first time director Julia Leigh whose Sleeping Beauty trailer we posted/fawned over last week. After the success of Michod’s Animal Kingdom and Warwick Thornton’s Samson and Delilah (again a feature film debut) the future of Australia’s film industry looks brighter than Margaret Pomeranz’s earrings which is to say we can’t wait to watch the hell out of both of these.
As a side note: the killings were colloquially known as the Bodies in Barrels Murders named for the MO with which Bunting disposed of his murder victims. Hang on til the trailer’s last frame for some context-dependent chills. Watch below…