Australian taxpayers pay for Rich Lister Nicole Kidman’s trip to film festival

screen australiaAustralian taxpayers spent $10,000 on flying actress Nicole Kidman to Toronto to promote The Railway Man, documents published on the Screen Australia website suggest.

The travel grant was the largest of its type given by Screen Australia over the last 12 months. According to the AFR’s Rich List, Kidman is Australia’s fourth richest woman with a personal fortune approaching a third of a billion dollars.

railway man

The project received five times Screen Australia’s usual limit for travel grants, and lists producer Chris Brown and director Jonathan Teplitzky as receiving $5,000 and $10,000 respectively.

A spokesman for Kidman told Mumbrella although the actress is listed by Screen Australia as the applicant, she had never made a request for this type of funding, and this application was put forward by producer Chris Brown of Pictures In Paradise. Kidman’s spokeswoman said she believed the actress flew to the Toronto Film Festival for the red carpet premier and media interviews, from the US.

Brown was not prepared to reveal what Kidman’s travel actually cost, or whether she flew on a scheduled airline or private jet. Before he hung up, he told Mumbrella: “She’s not getting the money personally, it’s just part of the costs of presenting the film at Toronto, it’s part of the overall costs. She doesn’t get a penny of that money. I couldn’t tell you off hand what the overall cost was.”

He said the travel grant went into the overall budget for promoting the film at Toronto, and added: “The true story is that we have to throw together a budget to make sure we get all these people over there.

“If we’d had a distributor in the US it would have been handled in a different way, so it’s not an unusual thing and it’s certainly not unusual for Screen Australia to support flying the director and the cast out to promote the film. It’s just a way to support the film.”

He added the trip had been “successful” in promoting the film and helped secure the Weinstein Company as distributors for the film, which also stars British actor Colin Firth.

screen australia guidanceThe $25,000 appears to be much larger than Screen Australia’s own guidelines on funding, which limits support for attendance at the Toronto Film Festival at $5,000. However, the rules do say that there can be exceptions and a spokeswoman for the organisation said “this is always done within the context of a strategy, agreed on by all relevant parties”.

screen australia railway man

They added: “Toronto provided a one-off opportunity to get all the key creatives in one place to promote the film. The key components of that push were the main cast (Nicole, Colin and Jeremy) and the filmmakers. That’s how the business works, here and everywhere else in the world.”

The film was shot in Scotland, Thailand and Queensland and the production received approximately $2m in Screen Australia support. It also received funds from public bodies Screen Queensland and Creative Scotland.

The film launched in Australia on Boxing Day and has so far taken $5m.

The spokeswoman for Screen Australia said it had been a mistake to list actors as applicants and recipients of grants on its website, and that generally requests come from the films’ producers. The spokeswoman said the site would be amended, although that was yet to take place at the time of writing.

They added: “The money goes to the Australian production company which was the applicant in each case for every travel grant. Travel grants are a contribution towards the overall often substantial costs of taking a film to market for its world premiere at A-list festivals. Most of these costs are covered by the sales agents with contributions from the producer, us (where relevant) and often the local distributor too.”

According to the travel grants list, Joel Edgerton’s travel to the Toronto Film Festival – to promote his film Felony – was covered to the tune of $5,000 by Screen Australia. And Wolf Creek star John Jarrett’s trip to the Venice Film Festival cost Screen Australia $5,000.

Producer Emile Sherman, who won an Oscar for The King’s Speech, got $5,000 to go to Sundance to promote Top Of The Lake, while the series’ director Jane Campion received $5,000 to goto the Emmys. Campion previously had a $25,000 intern funded for her by Screen Australia.

According to its guidelines, Screen Australia pays for film makers, and “in exceptional circumstances lead actors”, to attend film festival if they can help generate publicity.

huffpo nicoleKidman’s visit to Toronto was covered by the Canadian edition of the Huffington Post’s style section among others.

Outgoing Screen Australia CEO Ruth Harley left in November and was replaced by Graeme Mason.

Megan Reynolds & Alex Hayes






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