Visionary Dutch-Australian filmmaker Rolf de Heer, known for several landmark films including “Ten Canoes” and “Charlie’s Country,” is in competition at the upcoming Berlin Film Festival with “The Survival of Kindness.”
An allegory for racism, the film follows BlackWoman, who is abandoned in a cage on a trailer in the middle of the desert. She escapes and walks through pestilence and persecution, from desert to canyon to mountain to city, on a quest that leads to a city, recapture and tragedy.
Many of de Heer’s films are born with a single image in his mind. In the case of “The Survival of Kindness” this was an image of Peter Djigirr, the filmmaker’s closest Indigenous friend, who co-directed “Ten Canoes” and co-produced “Charlie’s Country” and acted in both of them, locked in a cage on a trailer abandoned in the desert.
“In the same way that the image of Djigirr in a cage on a trailer in the desert demanded it be the beginning of the film, the COVID/Black Lives Matter nexus was impossible for me to ignore. Every time I was writing a scene, it made itself known to the back of my mind. It was formative, and helpful, and the pure cinema of what was going down on the page allowed for that aspect of it to go where it wanted to. And I was pleased that it did,” de Heer said in his directors’ statement.
Djigirr was unavailable for the film and Mwajemi Hussein, originally from the Democratic Republic of the Congo, was cast in the lead as BlackWoman. The cast also includes Deepthi Sharma, Darsan Sharma, Gary Waddell and Natasha Wanganeen.
The film is produced by Julie Byrne and de Heer with Ari Harrison as coproducer. The production companies are Triptych Pictures and Vertigo Productions and the film was produced with principal funding from Screen Australia with assistance from Screen Tasmania, Adelaide Film Festival and South Australian Film Corporation.
Fandango Sales is handling international sales and Umbrella Entertainment will distribute in Australia.
Watch the trailer here: