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Van Diemen’s Land

Australia, 2009
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Scr.: Jonathan auf der Heide, Oscar Redding
Phot.: Ellery Ryan
Editor: Cindy Clarkson
Music: Jethro Woodward
Cast: Oscar Redding, Arthur Angel, Paul Ashcroft, Mark Leonard Winter, Torquil Neilson, Greg Stone
Distributor: Madman Entertainment
Format: 35 mm
Color
104 mins
www.vandiemensland-themovie.com

Tasmania was originally known as Van Diemen’s Land by the first European settlers. The brutal penal colony of  Macquarie Harbour located in Tasmania was simply known as Hell’s Gates by those convicts unlucky enough to be sentenced to rot there. In the inhumane conditions thousands of miles from home there was no need for fences, the hostile landscape proved to be a boundary more insurmountable than any cage. This powerfully realized film is based on the true story of eight men who in 1822 daringly escaped into the unknown and utterly alien bush. Hailing from Ireland, Scotland and England the gang of escaped felons are united by their shared desperation, their terror of being captured and their taste for the possibility of freedom, but the thick bush is unforgiving. Lost, desperate and suffering an endless gnawing hunger the men are driven into increasingly horrific actions.

Auf der Heide and Oscar Redding developed the script from the sole survivor Alexander Pearce’s detailed confessions, to further historic truthfulness even using a voice over narration in Gaelic. Van Dieman’s Land is a period movie with a difference, examining the psychological terrors that lay at the heart of the story with an anthropologist’s unflinching gaze.

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