Dan is in love with Leanne. They were born on the same day: November 6, 1960. They eat together. They live together. They steal together. When Dan’s love is suddenly ripped away from him, he is reduced to savagery. Dan swallows. Dan tries to sleep. Dan tries to hide. Suffocating and filled with violence, Dan thrashes against the tide and goes on a journey to take back what is his. The past is not a dead thing – it may return, like a hunter, to follow us for a time.
- Daniel Jones
- Leanne Letch
- Dario Ettia
- Amiel Courtin-Wilson
- Germain McMicking
- Pete Sciberras
- Steven Benwell
I had also known that I wanted to make a film about Danny as soon as I met him but it was only after becoming extremely close with Dan and his girlfriend Leanne over a period of years and hearing endless stories from both of them about their past criminal exploits that I decided to make a feature film rather than a documentary about their lives. I wrote HAIL based on five years of Daniel and Leanne’s lives together after Danny’s release from prison in 2005. I then cast them both as the leads in HAIL in which they actually play themselves in the context of a dramatic narrative. It was a fascinating experiment to take their actual world and then place a narrative skin over the top of that to create a fictional story. Leanne is a remarkably strong, generous woman and I was deeply inspired by the love Danny and Leanne have for one another. I wanted to juxtapose what could have been a social realist kitchen sink drama about the details of their daily lives post release from prison with something almost operatic in tone - something mythical, romantic and highly impressionistic. Stylistically HAIL is forged from a triumvirate of influences - the work of John Cassavetes, experimental film by filmmakers such as Stan Brakhage, and horror and exploitation films like Texas Chainsaw Massacre. HAIL was one of the most challenging creative endeavours of my life as making my first dramatic feature film meant engaging with an endless set of variables in terms of how your narrative can take shape. It was also an interesting lesson to realise that in many ways creating a fictional world is a far more personally revealing task than directing a documentary.
- FLOOD PROJECTS
A risk-taking piece of experimental cinema about a real-life ex-con from Australia.
I make films to be humbled by the immensity of others - to explore what it is to be alive - to chart the chasms between people as well as the things that bind and ignite us. The intimate and circuitous human relationships forged during the filmmaking process is everything to me and hopefully each of the films screening in this program are as pure a manifestation of those relationships as possible.
Amiel Courtin-Wilson’s first feature documentary CHASING BUDDHA (1999) premiered at Sundance in 2000 and won a slew of awards across Australia including Best Documentary at both the Sydney Film Festival and the Inside Film Awards. His other films include the multi-award winning feature documentary BASTARDY (2008), and CICADA (2009) which was selected as part of Directors’ Fortnight at Cannes in 2009. Amiel's first dramatic feature film HAIL (2011) premiered at Venice International Film Festival in 2011, was lauded by critics such as Adrian Martin as being the best Australian Film of 2011 and won the Age Critics Award for Best Australian Feature Film at the Melbourne International Film Festival, as well as best film at Fantasia International Film Festival and Fantaspoa International Film Festival. Amiel's most recent feature film RUIN, co-directed with Michael Cody premiered at the 2013 Venice Film Festival where it won the Special Jury Prize as part of the Orizzonti section of the festival and has gone on to win awards for Best Cinematography at the 2Morrow Moscow International Film Festival and Best Editing at the 56th Asian Pacific Film Festival.