Rowe wants an Australian producer

Michael RoweCamera d’Or winner Michael Rowe is in Australia to present his film Año Bisiesto (Leap Year) at the Melbourne International Film Festival, and although he’s interested in working here, he hasn’t been contacted by local producers.

“I’d be very excited to do a project in Australia. I’d need to write a script specifically to shoot here, and development funding, but there have been no Australian producers who have shown any interest,” Rowe told Encore.

The Ballarat native has developed his career in Mexico, and his success at Cannes made the Australian industry wonder who this mystery ex-pat was. He arrived in Melbourne on Tuesday.

“Everybody here has been, ‘who the hell are you, where did you come from and how did this happen?’ I’ve seen very interesting reactions here, and I’m very happy,” said Rowe. “A woman from a community ratio station said she was unsure whether she wanted to interview me because the film depicted violence against women, and I’d forgotten what it was like to have knee-jerk reactions to works of art, based on political postures. That’s something that’s very left-wing Australian, and didn’t happen in Mexico at all.”

The writer/director is still enjoying the success of Leap Year, and although he hasn’t decided what his next project will be – “I don’t know whether I want the next one to be purely Mexican or break out and start producing with other countries as well” – he would certainly like to hear from Australian producers who might help him achieve his goals.

“Somebody who wants to produce a script written by me, to be filmed in Australia about Australian society. I don’t know if there’s a particular subject that would be of interest to me; my scripts tend to revolve more about individuals than issues, so it’s probably not a good sell for a producer, but I’d be interested in doing character-based stuff here in Australia,” he explained.

The film has been sold to 15 countries, including Australia, but Rowe did not remember the name of the distributor. The business side of the industry is simply not his thing.

“Not at all; it makes me break out in a rash. That’s why I need someone else to do that. If there were an Australian production company interested in fostering that, I’d be happy to do so,” he said.

Following his win at Cannes in May, Rowe returned to Mexico to find two letters from the President, congratulating him.

“It’s nice being the rock star of Mexican cinema. We just screened the movie at the Guanajuato Film Festival (in the country’s most conservative state) and there were no restrictions or any problems; there was a standing ovation for the movie,” said Rowe.

Rowe will attend the Friday screening of the film at MIFF, and offer a Q&A session.


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