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Inaugural Film Lab film Monolith selected for SXSW

12 January 2023
Lily Sullivan in Monolith, photo by Ian Routledge.

South Australian sci-fi thriller Monolith, the inaugural film from the South Australian Film Corporation (SAFC) and Adelaide Film Festival‘s (AFF) FilmLab: New Voices initiative, starring rising star Lily Sullivan (Evil Dead Rise, I Met a Girl, Picnic at Hanging Rock) will have its international premiere at SXSW 2023 and has locked ANZ distribution and international sales.

XYZ Films is now representing the title for North America, with Bonsai Films handling Australian distribution. Blue Finch Films have boarded the film for international sales. Monolith will have its international premiere as part of SXSW’s Midnighters section after having screened at Adelaide Film Festival in 2022. Joining Monolith on the Midnighters program is South Australian made and SAFC supported horror Talk to Me, which is set to have its international premiere at Sundance later this month.

A taut, contained mystery, Monolith follows a disgraced journalist (Sullivan) as she tries to salvage her career by turning to investigative podcasting. Whilst trying to get to bottom of a strange artefact that may be linked to an alien conspiracy, she begins to uncover the lies at the heart of her own story.

Monolith was developed and produced through the FilmLab: New Voices program, an initiative run by the SAFC and AFF, financed with the assistance of Screen Australia, designed to develop and elevate first time South Australian feature filmmakers. Monolith was directed by Matt Vesely, written by Lucy Campbell and produced by Bettina Hamilton and was filmed across a three-week period in one location in South Australia’s Adelaide Hills.  Completed at the end of 2022, Monolith is the first film to come out of the FilmLab: New Voices program with the second round currently in development.

SAFC CEO Kate Croser said: “The South Australian Film Corporation is so proud to have supported the development and production of Monolith, the first feature film to come out of the Film Lab: New Voices program. FilmLab: New Voices is the SAFC’s flagship talent development program and is a re-boot of the SAFC’s highly successful FilmLab program which last decade enabled the feature debuts of some of South Australia’s most talented screen creatives. With Monolith, writer Lucy Campbell, director Matt Vesely and producer Bettina Hamilton have earned their place in this league. I congratulate the entire creative team on their achievement with Monolith and look forward to the international success of this extraordinary film at SXSW 2023 and beyond.”

Producer Bettina Hamilton of Black Cat White Rabbit Productions said: “We are extremely excited to be working together with XYZ Films (North America), Blue Finch Films (ROW) and locally with Bonsai Films (ANZ) to get Monolith out there and shared with audiences all around the world. They have all been huge supporters of this project since the script stage and we are very thankful to be working with them now that the film is completed. This has been an amazing outcome for our FilmLab film.” 

Director Matt Vesely said “When we started developing Monolith, we quite literally said to ourselves in one of our very first meetings – wouldn’t it be great to take an indie sci-fi to SXSW? This is a dream come true for this project, our team, and especially for me – I’ve been wanting to go to this festival since I was 15. We can’t wait to show the film to a US audience and for people the world over to realise what a star Lily Sullivan is.”

AFF CEO and Creative Director Mat Kesting said: “SXSW audiences are set to enjoy a cinematic delight with Matt Vesley’s Monolith – the first of what we hope will be many films made by Vesley. We are thrilled to see this inaugural Film Lab New Voices work connect with international audiences following its world premiere at Adelaide Film Festival 2022 and believe this is just one example of the extraordinary creative talent present in South Australia.”

Todd Brown of XYZ Films said:” XYZ is thrilled to be a part of bringing Monolith to audiences in North America. Smart, cerebral science fiction has been core to the XYZ brand since our inception and we believe very strongly that Matt Vesely is a huge talent in that space. We haven’t been more excited about a filmmaker since we first came across Aaron Moorhead and Justin Benson with their debut feature Resolution.”

Mike Chapman of Blue Finch Films said: “Monolith is a bold and brilliant slice of science fiction that is sure to wow festival programmers, distributors and global audiences alike. We have been fans of the project since reading Lucy Campbell’s page-turning script, which the filmmaking team has certainly delivered on.”

Jonathan Page of Bonsai Films said: “I’m very excited about releasing Monolith in Australia later this year. I attended the world premiere screening at Adelaide Film Festival and witnessed firsthand the strong response to it there – the film really delivers as a smart, edgy, down-the-rabbit-hole thriller. Audiences will get blown away!”

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