EXCLUSIVE: UK-French film company Alief has secured international sales rights to Australian filmmaker Alena Lodkina’s second feature Petrol, following its buzzy world premiere in Locarno’s Filmmakers Of The Present competition.
The Melbourne-set drama, co-stars Nathalie Morris as an impressionable film student of Russian origin who falls under the thrall of an enigmatic performance artist, played by big screen newcomer Hannah Lynch.
The pair move in together and their lives become more and more entwined, with Morris’s character embarking on a voyage of self-discovery played out between reality and her imagination.
Morris is best known internationally for her starring role in Stan’s Australian teen pregnancy series Bump, which premieres in North America on CW Network this month and was acquired for the U.K. by the BBC.
Petrol was the first Australian feature film to play in competition at Locarno since Clara Law’s Floating Life in 1996.
The film is produced by Kate Laurie under the banner of Melbourne-based production powerhouse Arenamedia (The Dry, Blueback).
Petrol is Lodkina’s second feature after Strange Colours which premiered at the Venice Film Festival in 2017 and was supported by the Venice Biennale College program.
“For me, Petrol is a film about a young woman’s search of self, the strange line between self and others, the vulnerability of youth,” Lodkina says of the film.
Following its Locarno debut, the film made its Australian premiere at the Melbourne International Film Festival (MIFF) on Thursday (August 11).
A MIFF Premiere Fund film, the work was also produced with the support of Screen Australia, VicScreen, SBS and Orange Entertainment. Arenamedia’s Robert Connolly and Liz Kearney are executive producers.
“Petrol is a gem that turns Australian realism on its head with brushstrokes akin to David Lynch and magnetic performances by stars Nathalie Morris and newcomer Hannah Lynch,” said Alief president Brett Walker and company partner Miguel Angel Govea.
Other recent titles on production and distribution company Alief’s slate include Amanda Kramer’s musical comedy Give Me Pity! and Icelandic director Hannes Þór Halldórsson’s action-comedy Cop Secret, in which a police officer in denial of his sexuality falls for his new partner while investigating a series of bank robberies.
Australian producer Laurie said: “We are looking forward to working with Alief on World Sales for Petrol – we feel it’s a perfect fit to be working with a company dedicated to new voices and risk-taking cinema. “