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Lion director Garth Davis looking at Somalian film with Rooney Mara

His first film, Lion, has been a hit that landed six Oscar nominations, including best picture.
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His second, the religious drama Mary Magdalene, which stars Rooney Mara, Joaquin Phoenix as Jesus and Chiwetel Ejiofor as Peter, is being lined up for a Hollywood awards season run even as it is still being finished in Melbourne.

Now n director Garth Davis is looking at a third collaboration with Mara for a film set in Somalia.

Davis told a cinema Q&A session for the extended version of Lion that he is considering a film adaptation of the 2013 memoir A House in the Sky, Canadian journalist Amanda Lindhout’s account of being held hostage by teenage militants for 15 months.

She and n photojournalist Nigel Brennan were kidnapped, along with their translator and two drivers, in Mogadishu in 2008.

Mara, the two-time Oscar nominee for The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo and Carol, would star. She played Lucy, Saroo Brierley’s girlfiend, in Lion before taking the title role in Mary Magdalene for a shoot in Italy.

“I’m not religious but this was the first time I’ve read something from that era that made sense to me,” Davis said of Mary Magdalene. “It was deeply moving and incredible, and I just had to make it. Often religion is used to control but this was a film that went back to what the message is really about.”

Like Lion last year, Mary Magdalene is due to be released in North America in November.

Women filmmakers start fight club

A small group of n filmmakers has raised the bar for future festivals by putting more than their reputations on the line.

Three women directors are training for boxing bouts as part of the first For Film’s Sake Festival in Sydney, which is aimed at challenging the lack of diversity in the film industry.

Festival director Sophie Mathisen is joined by Mohini Herse and Grace Tan for 12 intensive weeks of boxing lessons.

Grace Tan, Mohini Herse and Sophie Mathisen will take to the ring as part of a festival aimed at challenging the lack of diversity in the film industry. Photo: Louise Kennerley.

“It’s something new that potentially audiences haven’t seen before and it’s very much about providing models for other women to attempt something that they haven’t before,” Mathisen says. “It’s really important that there are more women entering different rings and doing things that might seem a … little bit against the grain.”

Mathisen, Herse and other women filmmakers stormed the red carpet dressed as sausages at the AACTA Awards in December, shouting “End the sausage party”, to protest at the lack of female representation in the industry.

Mathisen believes that fighting in the ring will be no tougher than battling for recognition as a female filmmaker.

“I’m still a very feminine woman but I’m also very fierce,” she says. “It’s the same thing as when we talk about strong female characters [in films] – this idea of complexity. We can be caring and nurturing and still be deft boxers.”

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