City of Adelaide and Mercury CX announce four inaugural HOTHOUSE Residents

City of Adelaide and Mercury CX announce four inaugural HOTHOUSE Residents

City of Adelaide and Mercury CX are excited to announce the four recipients of the inaugural Hothouse Creative Residencies. 

In partnership with the City of Adelaide through their Cultural Strategic Partnerships Program, Mercury CX’s Emerging Hothouse Scheme provides two emerging screenwriters, a producer and a cinema programmer/projectionist with a 12-week, flexible residency.  Following an extensive callout and review of applications, four creatives have been selected to be the initial Hothouse Creative Residents.  The inaugural 2021 Hothouse Residents are: 

DYLAN COLEMAN – Screenwriting 

Award-winning novelist, First Nations academic and social justice activist, Dylan Coleman is working on a screenplay adaptation of a novel manuscript that won the black&write Writing Fellowship, to be published in the near future. 

SALLY HARDY – Screenwriting 

Award-winning playwright and children’s author Sally Hardy is working on an adaptation of her play Night Light scheduled to be performed in 2023. 

CRAIG JACKSON – Producing 

Transitioning from a career as a cinematographer to producing, Craig Jackson is developing a factual television series, whilst also producing one of this year’s Mercury CX Quicksilver production fund short films. 

AIMEE KNIGHT – Cinema Programming & Projection 

Film critic and The Big Issue’s small screens editor Aimee Knight brings an understanding of contemporary cinema to the programmer and projection residency and is currently programming the final session of Adelaide Cinematheque for 2021 with a focus on ‘difficult women’. 

Hothouse Residents Group Photo
Back row L-R: Craig Jackson, Sally Hardy, Dylan Coleman, Mentor Ruth Estelle, Aimee Knight Front Row L-R: Karena Slanenka, CEO Mercury CX, City of Adelaide Lord Mayor Sandy Verschoor

Attracting diverse creatives and projects  

In announcing the recipients, Karena Slaninka, CEO Mercury CX spoke of the exceptional candidates who applied. “We’ve had an excellent response to the program in the first year and are thrilled to have such talent seeking to be part of this year’s residencies.” 

“Transitioning from one area of creative industries to another, or seeking to elevate one’s career, can benefit from mentoring, structure, and a supportive environment in which to achieve creative outcomes to set goals and to develop craft and contacts. Hothouse facilitates that while providing resources and the structure to be able to work toward a specific creative outcome.” 

“Hothouse is a unique initiative in supporting artists and creatives who are developing and advancing in their creative practice is an important part of our vision for Mercury CX to be a national centre of excellence for story,” Slaninka said. 

“Adelaide is one of the most liveable and creative cities in the world with artists, makers and festivals at its heart,” the Lord Mayor said. 

“The City of Adelaide is working in partnership with our arts and culture sector to support artists and create opportunities for them. We are curating a city filled with dynamic arts and cultural experiences for people to enjoy.”  

The Hothouse Residencies provide the opportunity for creatives to focus on specific works in a supportive environment surrounded by resources and mentors to help take their projects to fruition. The flexible program allows for each participant to draw on both the resources of Mercury CX as well as mentoring and industry connections to further their projects. 

Screenwriting resident Dylan Coleman said the appeal of the program was in the idea of the hothouse. “As the word suggests, Mercury CX provides an opportunity to grow quickly and to develop the skills in a warm supportive environment that might otherwise take years or even decades to reach. The alchemists of old turned mercury to gold, that’s the chemistry at work here.” 

Creating connection through immersion in the screen industry 

In addition to mentoring and access to Mercury CX facilities, the residency program included the 2021 MCX Screenmakers Conference, providing unique access to industry leaders and the opportunity to pitch their projects. 

The opportunity for residents to deepen industry connections can be a defining step for their projects. Playwright and screenwriter Sally Hardy secured additional industry meetings about her project through the conference.  

“This year’s MCX Screenmakers Conference was a godsend. As well as hearing from people at the top of their game in the industry, I was able to discuss my feature film with festival programmers, producers and distributors” she said. 

Producer Craig Jackson said that MCX Screenmakers proved to be a valuable part of achieving the goals of his residency. “So much of the development process involves getting feedback from others as a project progresses and having ongoing access to informed and experienced professionals is invaluable to shaping an effective treatment and pitch,” said Jackson. 

Mercury CX Script Executive and screenwriting mentor Ruth Estelle knows from experience the importance of dedicated space for the development process. “Writers need space and support, and at Mercury CX we are well-placed to provide both. The results, I’m sure, will speak for themselves when we see their work on the big screen!” she said. 

Discussing the opportunities afforded by the residency Sally Hardy said, “As a playwright adapting my own play into a feature film, the opportunity to work closely with experienced and talented mentors like Ruth Estelle is invaluable.”  

“It’s incredibly helpful having access to Ruth’s knowledge of structure, audience and genre, as I deconstruct my story and create it anew for the medium of film. It’s also priceless to have a creative workspace available 24/7 for the duration of the residency, where I am free to write away from domestic distractions!” 

Bringing a different lens to stories on screen 

In explaining why she chose to apply, Dylan said “I saw it as a wonderful opportunity to work with a trusted local organisation who has supported First Nation writers and filmmakers and mentorships in the past. Being able to share our stories as First Nations writers is so important. I’m extremely grateful for this opportunity to spread my wings.” 

The third residency focus area is Cinema Programmer + Projectionist, an underexplored field in the screen industry.  

Aimee Knight spoke of how this rare opportunity complements her work writing about screen culture “enriching my critical perspectives on cinema by learning the intertwined art of film curation.” 

There is more to cinema programming than just choosing films. The residency will help Aimee gain a practical understanding of the big-screen distribution process. ”All that nitty-gritty administrative stuff that comes with contracts, budgets, marketing, and promotion. I’m particularly keen to spend time in the hallowed projection booth, where the alchemy of exhibition happens.” 

Knight’s curation will draw on her background in film criticism and include putting a series of difficult women on the big screen as part of the new Adelaide Cinematheque program from 1 to 10 November. 

Adelaide Cinematheque presents: Difficult Women

Adelaide Cinematheque presents: Difficult Women

Bossy. Opinionated. Difficult.  

These words curse women for doing their jobs – especially in Hollywood, where clear-eyed femme directors have been blacklisted for applying the same discipline and commitment that gets their male peers labelled ‘visionary auteurs’.  

This November, Adelaide Cinematheque celebrates these so-called ‘Difficult Women’ with a season showcasing their tenacity, humour and artistic excellence.  Curated by Aimee Knight – Mercury CX’s Emerging Hothouse resident in cinema programming and projection – the four-film strand runs from 1–10 November at the Mercury. 

Yentl (1983) Dir. Barbra Streⅰsand 

Monday 1 November, 7pm 

Streisand’s directorial debut is a masterwork of mainstream feminist cinema. The multihyphenate shines as the titular difficult woman who, in turn-of-the-century Poland, adopts a male persona so that she may study Jewish theology. This leads to a love triangle that destabilises gender, sexuality, patriarchy, and the gaze.  

Jennifer’s Body (2009) Dir. Karyn Kusama 

Wednesday 3 November, 7pm 

“Hell is a teenage girl.” So opens this oft-misunderstood film about the horror and romance of women’s friendship. Written by Juno’s Diablo Cody, the witty script flips the body monstrous on its head, while Megan Fox – backed by director Karyn Kusama (Destroyer) – gives a wink and a nod to the monotony of misogynist.  

Just Another Girl on the I.R.T. (1992) Dir. Leslie Harris 

Monday 8 November, 7pm 

With her sharp mind and sharper tongue, Chantel (Ariyan A. Johnson) is 17 going on 30. She dreams of leaving Brooklyn, going to college, and graduating into middle-class security. Can Chantel really navigate a world that wasn’t built for her? The first and, to date, only feature directed by Leslie Harris remains feverishly relevant. 

Ishtar (1987) Dir. Elaine May 

Wednesday 10 November, 7pm 

Starring Warren Beatty and Dustin Hoffman as palpably untalented lounge singers, this notorious flop sealed Elaine May’s fate as Hollywood’s #1 difficult woman. But as the writer, director and Taurus sun observed, “If all of the people who hate Ishtar had seen it, I would be a rich woman today.” 

So, let’s reimagine the canon as we commend these four directors – and every woman whose career has been hindered by whispers, but whose work endures regardless.  

Difficult Women runs 1–10 November at the Mercury Cinema. Peruse the full Adelaide Cinematheque program, and read up on the benefits of Mercury Club membership

Hothouse Resident Aimee Knight puts the spotlight on Difficult Women in this season of Adelaide Cinematheque
New SA filmmaking talent in the spotlight as inaugural Film Lab New Voices teams announced

New SA filmmaking talent in the spotlight as inaugural Film Lab New Voices teams announced

Back row: Pete Ninos, mentor Louise Gough, Lucy Campbell, Bettina Hamilton, Matt Vesely. Front row: Georgia Humphries, Madeleine Parry, Peta Bulsara (Astbury).

South Australia’s bold and ambitious Film Lab: New Voices feature film skills development program is set to foster a new generation of diverse South Australian filmmakers as the first three successful teams are announced today, with round two applications open from August. The initiative from the South Australian Film Corporation (SAFC) and Adelaide Film Festival in collaboration with Mercury CX also welcomes the support of Screen Australia in delivering the development phase of this inaugural round of the program which gives three South Australian creative teams industry mentoring with highly credentialed screen story development mentor Louise Gough across a 12-month period, to develop a low-budget feature film script. One project will be selected to move into production, to be wholly produced and postproduced in South Australia, and the final film will premiere at the Adelaide Film Festival in 2022.

The three selected teams for 2021 are:
–  Writer/director Peter Ninos and producer Georgia Humphreys,
– Writer Lucy Campbell, producer Bettina Hamilton and director Matt Vesely, and
– Writer/director Madeleine Parry and producer Peta Bulsara (Astbury).

The program will open again for round two applications in August 2021, with the final film to be delivered in time for Adelaide Film Festival 2024. 

Mercury CX plays a key role in supporting professional development, removing barriers to entry and cultivating unique, authentic stories from diverse creatives. Our professional development programs create a pipeline of talent into such initiatives as Film Lab: New Voices, which provides a unique opportunity to gain an invaluable feature film credit through the South Australian Film Corporation and the rich experience of connecting with an audience through a screening at the Adelaide Film Festival. The coordinated pathways through these organisations is quite special and is set to benefit South Australian practitioners enormously. – Karena Slaninka, CEO Mercury CX

Read the full release at South Australian Film Corporation.

New program building community around the films of South Asia

New program building community around the films of South Asia

Adelaide’s Mercury Cinema launches a new South Asian Seniors’ Film Club on Thursday 11 February at 10.30am with a screening of the award-winning film Made in Bangladesh.

Directed by Rubaiyat Hossain, the first film in the six-week program tells an inspiring story about a group of women fighting for the rights of textile workers in a garment factory in Dhaka, Bangladesh.

The free series of screening aims to build friendships and social connections for older South Australians, showcasing quality films from India, Afghanistan, Nepal, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and Bhutan, along with guest speakers, music, information, cultural entertainment and refreshments.

CEO of Mercury CX, Ms Karena Slaninka, said, ‘Many older people in our community have been experiencing real social isolation due to Covid-19, and we became aware that many from the South Asian community were in this position. We are pleased to offer a relaxing space to enjoying quality South Asian films, cultural entertainments and speakers, and a chance to build friendships through meeting new people’.

The program includes a unique selection of feature films, shorts and documentaries sourced from across the region along with entertainment and refreshments at select screenings.

Bookings are essential each of the free screenings. All sessions commence at 10.30am. 

The South Asian Seniors’ Film Club has been supported by The Office of the Ageing WellThe Australian Centre for Social Innovation and City of Adelaide. 


Film Lab announced

Film Lab announced

A bold, ambitious and creative program, Film Lab: New Voices, will foster a new generation of South Australian filmmakers in a new initiative from the South Australian Film Corporation (SAFC) and Adelaide Film Festival in collaboration with Mercury CX.

With a direct focus on feature film, the program will give three South Australian creative teams industry mentoring across a 12-month period to develop a low-budget feature film script. One project will be selected to move into production and the final film will premiere at the Adelaide Film Festival 2022.

Minister for Innovation and Skills David Pisoni made the announcement at the Adelaide Film Festival Made in SA event, a showcase of South Australian short films.

“This wonderful new initiative has great local benefits as the project will be wholly produced and post-produced in South Australia, providing local jobs and upskilling opportunities for crew and emerging talent,” Minister Pisoni said.

“Importantly, this is a skills development program that will accelerate career pathways for outstanding, diverse, emerging talent in South Australia.

“This collaboration between the SAFC, Adelaide Film Festival and Mercury CX demonstrates the kind of streamlined approach that delivers the best outcomes for the entire sector.”

Each writer/director/producer team will be provided with mentoring from internationally regarded low-budget feature filmmakers, many of whom are based in South Australia. The program would draw upon the in-house expertise at SAFC through Production Executive and former feature film producer Julie Ryan (Ten Canoes, Red Dog, H is for Happiness, Hotel Mumbai) and Industry Development Executive Kath McIntyre.

Film Lab: New Voices builds on the success of the SAFC’s Film Lab 2009-2012 which launched the careers of at least 12 South Australian Above-the-Line creatives and resulted in critically acclaimed, break out films Shut Up Little Man52 Tuesdays and The Infinite Man, among others.

CEO of the South Australian Film Corporation Kate Croser said “Film Lab: New Voices is designed to uncover the next wave of visionary South Australian talent.  Feature film credits are highly regarded in the screen marketplace, as is a festival premiere, and are important to securing future funding and career-building opportunities, so this initiative has real value for the selected team’s writer, director and producer. The development of diverse key creatives underpins the growth and sustainability of the South Australian screen sector, and through Film Lab: New Voices we will offer the opportunity for the next generation of South Australian creative talent to demonstrate their potential in the global market.”

CEO and Creative Director of the Adelaide Film Festival Mat Kesting said “The Adelaide Film Festival is proud to partner with the SAFC in this initiative to find new creative talent in our local industry, and we are thrilled to be able to present the finished film to audiences at the 2022 Festival.”

CEO of Mercury CX Karena Slaninka said “As part of our new positioning as a national centre of excellence dedicated to talent and story development, Mercury CX is delighted to be collaborating with the SAFC on Film Lab: New Voices, to support the cultivation of emerging talent and bold, authentic stories”.

Film Lab: New Voices is aimed at South Australian emerging key creatives (writer, director, producer) who have short film, web series and/or narrative documentary credits, applying as a team. At least one member of the team(writer, director or producer) must be from a group under-represented in the South Australian screen industry including: women filmmakers; First Nations filmmakers, Culturally and Linguistically Diverse (CALD) filmmakers, Deaf and disabled filmmakers, LGBTQIA+ filmmakers and filmmakers from regional and remote South Australia.