New York-based Film Movement has acquired U.S. rights to “Jasper Jones,” hailed by Variety as the best film to date by Australia’s Rachel Perkins (“Bran Neu Dae”) and a “beautifully composed portrait of life in late-’60s small-town Australia,” capturing “the loss of childhood innocence and the suffocating despair of adulthood.”
Michael E. Rosenberg, president of Film Movement, finalized the deal with Charlotte Mickie, president of Mongrel International.
Based on a beloved same-titled novel by Australia’s Craig Silver, the coming of age tale and murder mystery will celebrate its North America premiere as the closing night film at the Museum of the Moving Image’s tribute to the distributor, Film Movement: A 15th Anniversary Celebration. It screens on July 2.
Carried by a standout young cast of Aaron McGrath, Levi Miller (“Pan”) and Angourie Rice (“The Nice Guys”), and written by Silvey and Shaun Grant (“The Snowtown Murders”) who deliver “a richly layered screenplay,” in Variety’s verdict, “Jasper Jones” turns on a bookish 14-year-old boy, Charlie Bucklin (Miller), who dreams of becoming a writer. He is awoken in the dead of night by the titular character, a local part-Aboriginal outcast (McGrath), who leads him deep into the forest where he shows him something which will change his life forever.
The discovery marks Charlie’s introduction into the far more complicated world of adult sentiments and emotions, as he also experiences first-love with a local girl (Rice), witnesses his family’s breakdown, and discovers the nature of true courage.
Toni Collette (“Muriel’s Wedding,” “The Sixth Sense”) plays Charlie’s mother, Hugo Weaving (“The Lord of the Rings”), a crazed war veteran.
Perkins has said that “Jasper Jones” is “about empathy, a young man’s growing up very quickly, realizing the world is not what it seems, but having the empathy to understand other people around him although he’s very different from them.”
Film Movement will release “Jasper Jones” this winter.
Said Rosenberg: “We are excited to work with Mongrel International for the first time and couldn’t have picked a better film to release in the U.S. The story of ‘Jasper Jones’ recalls ‘Stand By Me’ and ‘To Kill a Mockingbird,’ and that’s good company to be in.”
“Jasper Jones” was produced by Vincent Sheehan of Porchlight Films (“The Hunter,” “Animal Kingdom”) and David Jowsey of Bunya Productions (“Mystery Road”). It was co-financed by Screen Australia and Screenwest, in association with ScreenNSW. The film was released in Australia by Madman Entertainment.
“We’re very pleased that Film Movement will be distributing ‘Jasper Jones’ throughout the U.S., where we are convinced it will touch and delight audiences of all ages,” said Mickie.
She added: “Film Movement has a terrific track record and a wonderful history with internationally-renowned directors.”