Opening nationally across Australia today, Screen Australia supported feature Buoyancy is Australia’s official submission for the Best International Feature Film at the 2020 Academy Awards®. The Khmer and Thai language film will compete with the other entrants from around the world to be shortlisted for nomination.

Already a major award winner from the 2019 Berlinale and now causing ripples around the world, Buoyancy is the stunning debut feature from Australian writer/director Rodd Rathjen, produced by Causeway Films’ Sam Jennings (Cargo) and Kristina Ceyton (The Nightingale, The Babadook), with Rita Walsh (I Used to be Normal: A Boyband Fangirl Story).

Inspired by real events, the film is an intense, stylish thriller shot almost entirely at sea, and is the story of 14yo Cambodian Chakra who leaves home in search of a better life, but finds himself enslaved on a fishing trawler.

Director/writer Rodd Rathjen said “The experience of making a film in Cambodia was life-changing and it was an honour to work with cast and crew from Cambodia, Thailand, Vietnam and Myanmar. This is a subject incredibly close to my heart.”

Producers Sam Jennings and Kristina Ceyton said “The whole team of Buoyancy is profoundly honoured to be Australia’s submission for this always-exceptional category of the Academy Awards®. This film has been made possible by the extraordinary commitment of all those involved, and the courage of survivors who shared their stories. They entrusted us to bring their experiences to the world because, as one person put it “No one can hear us, nobody knows we are here.”

Graeme Mason, CEO of Screen Australia said: “Buoyancy is a thought-provoking and moving story about human trafficking, but also a universal story of how poverty dehumanises people. The creative team from Causeway Films have a great track record of creating powerful debut feature films that resonate with audiences locally and internationally. This demonstrates how Australians are capable of telling world stories for global audiences. It’s a great privilege to submit this distinctive film to the Academy on behalf of Australia, following its festival success at Berlin International Film Festival and Melbourne International Film Festival.”

Australia has submitted films into the Best International Feature Film (formerly Best Foreign Language Film) category at the Academy Awards® since 1996. The film was chosen by a committee of Australian industry professionals convened by Screen Australia. As of 2019, thirteen Australian films have been submitted including the Yolngu Matha and Gunwinggu language film Ten Canoes (2006); Warlpiri language film Samson and Delilah (2009), Lao language film The Rocket (2013) and Nauvhal language film Tanna (2016), which was awarded an official nomination.

Buoyancy received major production investment from Screen Australia in association with Feracious Entertainment, MIFF Premiere Fund, Film Victoria and post-production company Definition Films. Umbrella Entertainment is distributing the film in Australia and New Zealand, with international sales handled by Charades and Echo Studio.

In Australian cinemas nationally from September 26
NSW: Dendy Newtown
ACT: Dendy Canberra
VIC: Cinema Nova, Sun Yarraville and Classic Elsternwick
QLD: Dendy Coorparoo
SA: Nova East End
WA: Luna Leederville

World Premiere: Berlin International Film Festival
Winner, Prize of the Ecumenical Jury Panorama 2019
Audience Award Panorama Third Place 2019
GWFF Best First Feature Award Nomination 2019
Amnesty International Award Nomination 2019
Australian Premiere: Melbourne International Film Festival
Top 5 MIFF Audience Award winner
Special Mention – Age Critics Jury Prize for Best Australian Film”
In Competition: Asia Pacific Screen Awards
Official Selection: Cinefest Oz
Nominated: ATOM Awards Best Fiction Feature Film
Official Selection: Chicago International Film Festival (26 October 2019)
Cambodian theatrical release date: 17 October 2019
French theatrical release date: 27 November 2019

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