Anthology films are back in vogue after the relative success of the "Cities of Love" project which spawned "Paris, je t'aime" and "New York, I Love You," while there are plans for similar films in Rio, Shanghai, Jerusalem and Berlin. While the finished products are almost always (and perhaps inevitably) a mixed bag, it's easy to see why these projects appeal to filmmakers. The process is fairly brief, it guarantees their short film distribution (unless you're Scarlett Johansson that is), attracts high-profile talent at a cut price, and allows them to pay tribute to a city they have a special connection to.
Never ones to sit quietly on the sidelines, now the Australians are getting involved but, fittingly, they won't be taking the 'I Love You' approach. Director John Polson ("Hide and Seek"), who founded the Sydney based Tropfest short film festival, and producer Gary Hamilton ("Wolf Creek," "Lord of War") will produce an ode to their home city — "Sydney Unplugged."
Anthony LaPaglia and Toni Collette will make their directorial debuts on the project which will include 12 short stories. Russell Crowe and Liev Schreiber will also direct a segment each, while the other shorts will be directed by Alex Proyas ("Dark City"), David Michod ("Animal Kingdom"), Ivan Sen ("Toomelah"), John Curran ("The Painted Veil"), Kieran Darcy-Smith ("Wish You Were Here"), Rachel Ward ("Beautiful Kate"), and Ray Lawrence ("Jindabyne").
It's certainly a talented and eye-catching line-up, and without a doubt they'll be working with one of the world's most beautiful cities so we'll be interested to see what kind of talent the project attracts in front of the camera. We'll be very interested in seeing Schreiber direct again though, and to see what Russell Crowe can deliver alongside some established filmmaking talent. Whether the film will be any good itself though is another matter, as they usually prove to be fairly uneven affairs. We won't waste our breath trying to predict whose segments will succed though because, after all, who could have predicted that the Brett Ratner sequence would be amongst the best in the New York anthology? "Sydney Unplugged" will shoot in the city later this year and will be released in Australia by Icon in 2013, with Arclight distributing internationally.