In one of the first buys out of the 2020 Berlin Film Festival, Stephen Johnson’s Australian epic “High Ground” has sold to Samuel Goldwyn Films for stateside distribution. IndieWire has the first trailer for the film, below.
This handsomely mounted frontier western, inspired by a true story from Northern Australia, shows the tragic consequences when a group of soldiers, many of them veterans of the First World War, in 1919 massacre almost everyone in a peaceful indigenous tribe. One young boy survives and is rescued by a veteran sniper, Travis, and raised (as Tommy) by missionaries in a military outpost. The past comes back to haunt them all, fourteen years later, as Tommy’s uncle, Aboriginal warrior Baywara, wreaks his revenge on the soldiers who killed his family.
The movie also stars Australian veteran Jack Thompson, Aaron Pedersen, and newcomers Witiyana Marika, Jacob Junior Naynuggal, and Maximillian Johnson. Stephen Johnson’s last directorial credit was the series “Dead Gorgeous,” and his last feature was 2001’s “Yolngu Boy,” a similarly Aboriginal tale, which was a Telluride Film Festival premiere back in its day.
“High Ground” was shot on location in Kakadu Park and Arnhem Land in Australia’s Northern Territory. The film was produced by Maggie Miles, Witiyana Marika, Johnson, David Jowsey, and Greer Simpkin. The screenplay comes from Chris Anastassiades. He also wrote “Yolngu Boy,” but has penned episodes of “The Bureau of Magical Things,” “Jar Dwellers SOS,” “Sumo Mouse,” “H20: Just Add Water,” and more.
Watch the trailer for “High Ground” below ahead of the film’s Berlin Film Festival premiere this weekend.