‘CANOPY’ Film Premiere in Toronto & Special Interview With Aaron Wilson!

**UPDATED** August 2013


The Toronto International Film Festival (September 5-15, 2013) announced today that Melbourne based-filmmaker Aaron Wilson’s debut feature CANOPY has been selected to make its world premiere in the festival’s coveted Discovery section next month.
Set during World War II in Singapore, CANOPY tells the story of an Australian fighter pilot (Australian actor Khan Chittenden) shot down in combat who awakens suspended in the treetops. As night devours day, he must navigate through a dangerous jungle in search of sanctuary. Transcending language and culture, CANOPY is a cinematic tour de force exploring the collision of war, nature and its impact on humanity. Aaron Wilson’s thrilling, breathtaking film marks the debut of an exciting new voice in Australian cinema.
CANOPY, was produced by Finer Films, as an Australia/ Singaporean co-production with Chuan Pictures. It was filmed almost entirely in Singapore, with some footage from the director’s hometown, Tocumwal, NSW. The actors are Sydney’s Khan Chittenden and Taiwan’s MO Tzu-Yi. 

Born in rural Australia, Aaron Wilson has made numerous short films with a minimalist approach to narrative and passion for understated human drama. His films have screened at over 100 festivals and acquired numerous international sales and awards. His films include RENDEZVOUS (‘03), TEN FEET TALL (‘05), WIND (FENG) (‘07), FAUX PAS (‘07) and LEAP YEAR (‘08). He currently works as a director at Airbag Productions, based in Melbourne, Australia. 

theaussieword.com was proud to support this project with Aaron and the whole crew from ‘CANOPY’ early last year. News of the Toronto premiere is the icing on the cake! Good luck with the Canadian premiere guys!
Here’s our special interview with Aaron back in March 2012…

A blog special interview with Aaron Wilson, Film Director of CANOPY. A movie that needs YOUR help… Please support the genre! 

Currently in post-production. 90% of the film is complete. The filmmakers have recently launched a funding campaign on the crowd-funding website, Pozible, to help complete their film. 

SYNOPSIS: Jim is an Australian airman shot down over the jungles of Singapore during the Japanese invasion of February 1942. He is lost, injured and defenceless in a hostile, tropical world. Hunted by Japanese troops, Seng, a Singapore-Chinese resistance fighter emerges from the jungle and the two young men find themselves thrown together in the fight to survive. But as night devours the jungle, its shifting shadows reveal a frightening new menace.

Q: Is this your first film?
A: CANOPY is my first feature film, though I’ve made several short films overs the past few years. In a way, they all seem to have built towards this full-length film. One of them, WIND, was about two elderly war survivors and their lives today. I also made a small doco where I followed Bill, an Australian Ex-POW, back to Singapore and Malaysia. It was wonderful to see the connection between Bill and his old friends from those two countries. Talking with them about their experiences sparked my interest in the different parts of war that had so affected them. That’s how CANOPY came to be.

Q: Your film is set in Singapore. Do they have a strong interest in their history and war veterans, like we do in Australia?
A: There seems to be a cultural divide in Singapore. There are those keen to preserve their historic buildings and heritage areas. Then there are others who only look forward, wanting new buildings and new ventures in commerce without much regard for the past. The main tract of jungle that we filmed in, for example, contains thousands of old Chinese graves, it’s so historic. And it’s about to be destroyed to make way for an expressway, it’s so sad. I will say that the Singaporeans I have met told us they didn’t know much about their wartime history, but expressed a keen interest in knowing more about their own family history during the Japanese occupation of WWII. Many didn’t even know there were Australians in Singapore during the war, they thought it was only British. 

Q: And it’s such an important part of our own history. Changi, especially. 
A: That’s right. You can see on Anzac Day that there’s such a renewed interest from our younger generation in what happened during World War Two. There were lots of Australians sent to Singapore, and lots of Indian troops, too. Something like 16,000 Australians who were fighting in Singapore were taken prisoner of war when the Japanese captured the island city. I remember one Ex-POW I interviewed told me about when he first arrived in Singapore. The British didn’t like the fact that the Australian troops would mingle with the local Singaporeans – the Chinese and Malays. But the Aussies didn’t much care for the segregations the British so loved.  

Q: The film features two actors from different countries. How did that come about?
A: One character is Australian and the other is Singapore-Chinese. I was really inspired by the stories I heard from Ex-POWs and veterans about how they got on with the locals in Singapore and Malaya. I wanted to show that there were many different peoples fighting. From the interviews I carried out, it seemed that you could be fighting alongside a Singapore-Chinese resistance fighter or an Indian or Malay or British soldier, and you all had a common enemy in the Japanese.

Q: Can you tell us about your actors?
A: Khan, our Australian actor, has just appeared in the ‘Underbelly: Razor’ series as Frank ‘The Little Gunman’ Green. He was also in the ‘Sisters Of War’ TV film on the ABC. Tzu-Yi, the actor playing the Chinese resistance fighter, is a young Taiwanese star. He’s done heaps of popular TV Drama series and films, and he’s getting quite a name in Taiwan and China.

Q: What stage is your film at?
A: Well we’ve finished 90% of our film. It’s all shot, edited and our visual effects are done, which is why we could put together a trailer to show people what it’s like. We’ve had a very lean budget the whole way, moving forward bit by bit as we secure more funding. We’re currently sourcing the last bit of funding to finish the film. For our sound design and to output the film. 

Q: You’ve found a pretty unique way to finish funding the film. What’s this Pozible crowd-funding campaign all about?
A: Pozible is a new online initiative that helps to fund creative endeavours like ours. It’s a crowd-funding platform, so people list their project or ideas on the site and campaign for funds to either research, start or complete their project. It’s incredibly exciting because it opens up new ways for us to source funding and to find people who might be interested in becoming part of our team as a sponsor. There’s lots of rewards for sponsors, too.

Q: So if someone likes your film campaign and wants to help by donating, how do they do it?
A: canopythefilm.pozible.com. This is our campaign page. It has lots of information about our film, plus you can see the film’s trailer here. There’s a big green button on the page that says ‘support project’, where you can donate any amount you like. Even $1 or $5 or $10 will go a long way to helping us get this film made, it really will. I’ve said this to some people before: “If you donate $1, you will help complete one frame of the film”. Every little bit counts. 

You can pledge your support for CANOPY on its Pozible crowd-funding page: canopythefilm.pozible.com

Join the CANOPY Facebook page: facebook.com/canopythefilm
Follow the film on Twitter: twitter.com/canopythefilm
Visit the film’s website: canopythefilm.com

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