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Review of "HAIL"
By Jayne Waterford
Review to come.

Amiel Courtin-Wilson's "HAIL" (2011)
Release Date 25th October 2012
Category Drama
Running Time 104 Minutes (1 hour, 44 minutes)
Rating R18+ High impact violence and sex.
Origin
Awards WINNER SEQUENCE JURY PRIZE BEST INTERNATIONAL FEATURE FANTASIA INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL 2012, WINNER AGE CRITICS AWARD BEST AUSTRALIAN FEATURE MELBOURNE INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL 2012
Director Amiel Courtin-Wilson
Producers Michael Cody & Amiel Courtin-Wilson
Stars Leanne Campbell, Daniel P. Jones
http://www.hailmovie.com


Distributor MADMAN ENTERTAINMENT

Official Blurb "Dan is in love with Leanne.

They were born on the same day, the 6th of November, 1960. They eat together. They live together. They steal together. When Dan’s love is suddenly torn away from him, he is reduced to savagery.

Haunted by damning memories, Dan awakes to a transparent face against the sun... a half formed body slumped over a fence.

Dan swallows. Dan tries to sleep. Dan tries to hide.

Dan inhabits a world created by an idiot - unfinished, incomplete. There are holes in this world; gaps and voids in its creation.

Time is thin around the cause and dense around the effect.

Crushed by malevolent beauty, suffocating and filled with violence, Dan thrashes against the tide and goes on a journey to take back what is his.

DIRECTOR’S STATEMENT

The ultimate abyss is not a physical abyss it is the death of another person – what philosophers describe as “the night of the world”. – Slavoj Zizek

The artist, like the criminal is a social explorer. – Marshall McLuhan

Time heals grief and quarrels, for we change and are no longer the same persons. Neither the offender nor the offended are any more themselves. – Blaise Pascal

"HAIL" is the culmination of my intensely personal 6 year collaboration with Daniel P. Jones.

I first met Danny in mid 2005 while shooting a documentary about Plan B, a Melbourne theatre company founded to rehabilitate ex-prison inmates through performance. Danny had been released the previous day and arrived at a Plan B rehearsal to take part in that year’s performance. I was instantly taken by his mercurial storytelling ability, his inky black sense of humour and his unique turn of phrase. As the weeks went by, I recorded him rehearsing several scenes with the other men in the group and his intensity on stage was striking.

We slowly got to know each other and after six months of shooting, Danny and I become close friends. As I had met Danny in the context of a very collaborative, improvisational theatre group, it was easy to ask him if he wanted to make the leap to film. Danny was thrilled.

In 2006 I started conducting in-depth interviews with Danny about his childhood, life on the streets and life in jail. It was around that time that he first told me the story that unfolds in the short film entitled CICADA.

I was moved to tears by his experience as a 5-year-old and when I spoke to Danny about the impact it had on him, he quoted Oscar Wilde: ‘We are all in the gutter, but some of us are looking at the stars. Per Ardua Ad Astra …’

This was a pivotal moment in my collaboration with Danny as it inspired me to develop a process that was also used in the shooting of "HAIL". I interviewed Danny, transcribed that material, edited it, then fed it back to him as honed dialogue in the context of dramatic scenes. In this way Danny was able to truly own the material while performing, thereby transcending the all too common problem of non-actors being given dialogue that never really sits comfortably with them. This working methodology proved highly successful with "CICADA" premiering internationally at Directors’ Fortnight at Cannes in 2009 as well as winning and being nominated for several major awards in Australia.

"HAIL" was the exciting next step in our creative

relationship and it has become a life changing experience.

When I first met producer Michael Cody in 2008 we instantly connected over our respective love of a very particular kind of risk taking in cinema.

We quickly became friends and began working on each others projects - this eventually lead to co-founding Flood projects, a filmmaking collective which has so far produced my short film "CICADA", Michael’s short FOREIGN PART S which premiered at Clermont-Ferrand in 2010 and most recently my feature documentary "BEN LEE: CATCH MY DISEASE" which premiered at Melbourne International Film Festival in 2011. Other Flood Projects members include some of Australia’s most promising emerging filmmakers including director Amy Gebhardt, editor Peter Sciberras and cinematographers Germain McMicking and Adam Arkapaw.

As a creative producer, it was Michael who was instrumental in not only rigorously interrogating the themes of the treatment for HAIL as it developed but also being more than willing to embrace an all too organic approach to the shooting methodology which

enabled the real world to bleed into the constructs of the narrative wherever possible.

Since my first documentary, "CHASING BUDDHA", I have developed a fascination with how people maintain a sense of hope in the face of adversity and how they manage to transform themselves when faced with crushing circumstances. I am also fascinated by moments of profound emotional, intellectual and sensory overload. The kind of experiences that take a lifetime to unpack but can never quite be encapsulated in a single sitting – epiphanies that are difficult to apprehend though ever present over the course of ones life.

Dealing with the themes of love, loss and renewal, "HAIL" is a grand love story borne of survival– it eschews sentimentality in deference to the reality of the characters’ lives.

In "HAIL" the line between cinema and life is at times erased, not just for the audience but for the characters/people in the film as well.

As Daniel and his real life partner Leanne Letch play themselves in the lead roles of the film, "HAIL" is in

part a distillation of the last five years of Daniel’s life post release from prison- combined with visceral fictional elements that take an audience on a metaphysical descent into an abyss of grief and violence. Exploring the extremities of human experience, at its heart HAIL is a delicately observed love story driven by the undeniable charm and magnetism of its two main characters Danny and Leanne.

I feel truly privileged to have assembled such an amazing team of collaborators and performers to inspire, provoke and ultimately realise my vision for "HAIL".

PRODUCER'S STATEMENT

The subject matter of "HAIL"... places it within a social justice context, hwever while incarceration and its unfinished business are clearly preoccupaitons o the film in a broad philosphical sense, Amiel's style is never preachy or didactic. Social commentary operates as a thread in a sophisticated orchestration that is ultimately profoundly mysterious. "HAIL" is concerned with the materiality of cinema; it listens to its sounds and savours imagery in the most elemental ways. By privileging phenomena over story,

nuance is permitted to speak of boundary expereinces that language cannot contain - raw burning intimacy, the psychic chaos of impossible love, grief that swallows comp comprehension, memory grasping for relief, bodiesin trauma, violence as a self abnegating dream, a mind breaking apart.

Working in the nexus between documentary and drama, "HAIL" contributes to the most exciting movement in contemporary cinema. There is potency in Authenticity that outruns even the most skilled performance. The 6 years that Amiel has spent developing a working relationship with Daniel P Jones (who 'plays' "HAIL"'s central character) lays the foundation for an extraordinary and vital cinematic adventure." - MADMAN ENTERTAINMENT PR

Photography by Glendyn Ivin & Germain McMicking

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