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Cannes: Mister Smith Acquires Sci-Fi Thriller ‘Mother’ Starring Clara Rugaard (EXCLUSIVE)

Variety logo Variety 5/3/2017 John Hopewell
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Adding to a building Cannes slate, David Garrett’s Mister Smith Ent. has acquired international sales rights to Australian sci-fi thriller “Mother,” starring Clara Rugaard in a film that marks the feature debut of Grant Sputore.

“Mother” is based on an original concept by Sputore and writer Michael Lloyd Green.  The screenplay was on the 2016 Black List. WME Global’s Graham Taylor is overseeing U.S. sales on the smart genre title.

Currently in pre-production, “Mother” will be introduced to buyers by Mister Smith Ent. at mid-May’s Cannes Festival.

A film which asks large questions – what qualifies as a family, or humanity, are just two – within a thriller format, “Mother” is produced by Western Australia’s Penguin Empire and Southern Light Films, the Australia and New Zealand-based company of veteran film producer Timothy White (“The Dark Horse,” “Son of a Gun”).

Described by Mister Smith as “a stylish and thought-provoking sci-fi thriller that brings a dark and electrifying edge to a unique mother-daughter story,” “Mother” turns on a lonely teenage girl, “Daughter,” the first of a new generation of humans brought up by “Mother” – a kindly robot designed to repopulate the earth following the extinction of mankind.

Set to shoot at South Australia’s Adelaide Studios, “Mother” takes a dramatic turn when, suddenly, a blood-drenched woman inexplicably appears, beating at their shelter door, begging for help, and threatening their unique bond. The Drifter, as the woman is known, calls into question everything Daughter has been told about the outside world – and her Mother’s intentions, the film’s synopsis runs.

“From its inception, this is a film that was intended to get people’s hearts pounding and their brains firing, in equal measure” said Sputore.

The voice of “Mother” and the role of the Drifter are currently being cast. Jean-Luc De Fanti, Terry Dougas, and Paris Kasidokostas-Latsis, whose “Good Time” premieres in competition at Cannes, are executive producing. Southern Light Alliance’s Anna Vincent co-produces.

“Mother” is financed by Hercules Film Investments with what a press statement describes as a “major investment” from Screen Australia and the South Australian Film Corporation, in association with Screenwest, Lotterywest, Rising Sun Pictures and Kojo.

WETA Workshop (“Avatar,” “The Lord of The Rings”) is creating the titular robot, with Rising Sun Pictures (“Logan,” “Gravity”) completing “Mother’s” VFX.

“With three female protagonists driving the central storyline and a emerging director who shows great promise, ‘Mother’ was a chance for us to support a rare Australian sci-fi film with a unique and compelling concept,” said Sally Caplan, Screen Australia’s head of production.

She continued: “It is a testament to the strength of this project that it has secured excellent Australia-New Zealand and international market place support.”

“I love this script and am particularly excited by the casting of Clara Rugaard who is such an amazing young talent,” Mister Smith Ent.’s Garrett added.

At Cannes, Garrett will also be handling pre-sales on “H-Block,” the anticipated Maze Prison escape thriller from Jim Sheridan (“In the Name of the Father,” “My Left Foot”), starring Cillian Murphy and Jamie Dornan. Mister Smith will unveil select footage from “Don’t Make Me Over,” a documentary about Dionne Warwick, co-directed and co-produced by Dave Wooley and David Heilbroner from a Wooley screenplay.

Rugaard is represented by U.K-based United Agents.

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