Van Diemen’s Land (image 1)

Beautifully performed, and shaded with authentically bitter Celtic wit... offsets its uncompromising account of survival in extremis with unexpected poignancy.

Hannah McGill, Edinburgh Film Festival

Screened as part of NZIFF 2009

Van Diemen’s Land 2009

Directed by Jonathan auf der Heide

A visionary dramatisation of a notorious tale from Australia’s convict past shot in the spectacular Tasmanian wilderness. “Beautifully performed, and shaded with authentically bitter Celtic wit.” — Edinburgh Film Festival

Australia In English and Gaelic with English subtitles
104 minutes 35mm

Producer

Maggie Miles

Screenplay

Jonathan auf der Heide
,
Oscar Redding

Photography

Ellery Ryan

Editor

Cindy Clarkson

Production & costume designer

Leanne Caruana

Music

Jethro Woodward

With

Oscar Redding (Alexander Pearce)
,
Mark Leonard Winter (Alexander Dalton)
,
Arthur Angel (Robert Greenhill)
,
Paul Ashcroft (Matthew Travers)
,
Torquil Neilson (John Mather)
,
Thomas Wright (Thomas Bodenham)
,
Greg Stone (William Kennerly)
,
John Francis Howard (Edward ‘Little’ Brown)

Festivals

Adelaide, Edinburgh 2009

Elsewhere

The magnificent forest and riverscapes of Tasmania murmur their indifference as one of the most grimly resonant of white Australian settlement stories unfolds in this intensely impressive first film. Eight thieves, of Irish, English and Scottish birth, all city boys, escape a convict camp with scant knowledge of bush survival. One, Alexander Pearce, survives. When he claims that he stayed alive by eating the others, the authorities conclude that he's covering up for his escaped mates. Director Jonathan auf der Heide, cowriter and lead actor Oscar Redding and an ensemble of colleagues from Melbourne's fertile independent theatre scene have imagined events with scrupulous intelligence, psychological acuity and an almost anthropological attention to detail. Eschewing genre thrills, they invest the savagery of the ‘fatal shore’ with specific lived experience so raw and sad you sense an urge for national exorcism 190 years later. — BG