Glendyn Ivin’s Penguin Bloom, the adaptation of Bradley Trevor Greive and Cameron Bloom’s novel starring Naomi Watts, The Walking Dead’s Andrew Lincoln and Jacki Weaver, will have its world premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival.
The drama produced by Emma Cooper, Watts and Made Up Stories’ Bruna Papandrea, Jodi Matterson and Steve Hutensky is among 50 features in the line-up.
The festival’s 45th edition will run from September 10–19, a combination of physical, socially-distanced screenings, drive-ins, digital screenings, virtual red carpets, press conferences and industry talks.
Scripted by Shaun Grant and Harry Cripps, the film follows Watts as Sam Bloom, a young Sydney woman who broke her back after a railing snapped and fell head-first six metres onto a concrete floor while holidaying with her family in Thailand in 2013.
After being diagnosed as a paraplegic, she slipped into depression and hopelessness until her son Noah found a frail, injured magpie chick. By caring for the little bird, which the family named Penguin for her black and white plumage, she regained her strength and confidence.
Lincoln is Cameron Bloom, Sam’s husband and Weaver is her mother Jan. Newcomers Griffin Murray-Johnston, Felix Cameron and Abe Clifford-Barr, who were discovered in a nationwide search by casting directors Kirsty McGregor and Stevie Ray, play the Bloom’s children.
Rounding out the cast are Rachel House as Sam’s Kiwi kayak coach Gaye Hatfield, Leeanna Walsman as Sam’s sister Kylie and Lisa Hensley as her friend Bron.
“It’s a special story, a moving and hope-filled film,” says Ivin, whose Last Ride premiered in Toronto in 2009. “I was afraid Penguin Bloom would not get a major festival screening after so many were cancelled or postponed.
“I feel lucky that we’ve got a slot among 50 features, especially given how selective the organizers have been.”
Alt.vfx handled over 200 shots for the film, including highly detailed feather and grooming for a CG magpie – the ‘Penguin’ in the title of the film.
Roadshow Films will launch the film on January 1. Endeavour Content is handling international sales. Screen Australia provided major production investment with support from Create NSW.
“The film is made for a broad audience,” Ivin adds. “It is not a family film but a film you can take the family to.”
For the full story and festival line up, visit INSIDE FILM.