After 40 years Aussie Classic ‘Wake in Fright’ to Premiere in New York City & LA

Wake in Fright, directed by Ted Kotcheff












You are probably asking yourself how does a film hit the big screens after 41years?

Well, the following article answers this question step by step and you will also learn how this amazing lost film came to be fully restored and re-issued to be released at the New York’s Film Forum on October 5 and Los Angeles’ Nuart Theater on October 19.

View slideshow: Wake in Fright

The History

Directed by Ted Kotcheff (“Rambo: First Blood”)Wake in Fright (also known as Outback) is a 1971 Australian film starring Gary Bond, Donald Pleasence , Chips Rafferty and Sylvia Kay. The screenplay was written by Evan Jones, based on Kenneth Cook’s 1961 novel of the same name.

Believed to be lost for many years, Wake In Fright was restored after an exhaustive decade-long search for original film elements. The film’s editor, Anthony Buckley. This now-producer worked tirelessly to locate, then refurbish, a print of the film. The negative was unearthed in Pittsburgh, PA, in canisters marked for destruction just one week away from its impending incineration. The materials were then restored frame-by-frame at Sydney’s AtLab Deluxe with the aid of the National Film and Sound Archives of Australia.

It first debuted at Cannes in 1971 where it was nominated for the Palme d’Or. Guest-curator Martin Scorsese brought a restoration back 38 years after its 1971 debut, ‘in competition,’ at the Cannes Film Festival, this film was declared a Cannes Classic in 2009. Mr. Kotcheff holds the honor of having one of only 2 films to have ever been screened twice at Cannes. The thriller is now considered a landmark film in the development of modern Australian cinema.

On March 20, 2011, Actor and Producer, owner of Angel Light Pictures Entertainment Group,Antonio Saillant, co-hosted the surprise 80th birthday festivities for executive producer of Law & Order: SVU,” Ted Kotcheff with actor Chris Meloni at NY’s MOMA. The event, was also hosted by his wife, Laifun Kotcheff, screened his 1971 Australian film, “Wake in Fright.”

After the screening Kotcheff held a Q &A much to the delight of the audience. Also joining the celebration was Saillant’s long time friend, Anthony P. Timpone, who for Fangoria is the Editor Emeritus and for Fantasia, is the Co-Director of International Programming of the film festival in Canada. Timpone approached Saillant for a screener of Wake in Fright after he expressed interest in screening Kotcheff’s movie for his fellow programmers at Montreal’s Fantasia Film Festival. Saillant being a good friend of Kotcheff and who shadowed him during Kotcheff’s time as the executive producer of the long time running NBC drama, Law and Order Special Victims Unit.

Timpone did first approached Kotcheff in 2010 about showing the film in Montreal in a letter but with Saillant’s help he was able to ask Kotcheff directly for his permission to pass along the screener to Timpone. Saillant intoduced to Kotcheff that Fantasia is an event of unprecedented proportions, being the largest and most highly attended festival of genre films in North America. That having the film, “Wake in Fright” in July promises to outdo all previous efforts! Fantasiawould be the perfect place to generate continued interest in the film. Buzz is born at Fantasia.The Fantasia team and Timpone were all in total agreement to showcase the film at Fantasia in summer 2011. This was the continuation of a miracle.

The Domino Effect

After Fantasia, Timpone connected Kotcheff to the program directors at the Oldenburg Film Festival in Germany who were interested in honoring the Canadian filmmaker and producer with a retrospective of his work.

Soon after, in September 2011, Kotcheff was honored with a retrospective at the Oldenburg Film Festival. Several of Kotcheff’s most acclaimed features, including Richard Dreyfuss-starrer, The Apprenticeship of Duddy Kravitz, which won the Berlin Film Festival’s Golden Bear in 1974.

Another like, Joshua Then and NowDuddy Kravatz was an adaptation of a novel by Montreal writer Mordecai Richler (Barney’s Version). Other Richler-Kotcheff collaborations included the 1965 drama Life at the Top, which Richler co-wrote, and Fun With Dick and Jane, a comedy about a once upwardly mobile couple who lose their jobs and turn to robbery to maintain their lifestyle. The 1977 film featuring George Segal and Jane Fonda.

Included in the 2011 festival was Robert Fischer’s 60-minute documentary, TED KOTCHEFF’S GOURMET CINEMA: THE MAKING OF WHO IS KILLING THE GREAT CHEFS OF EUROPE, which had its world premiere as part of a Kotcheff retrospective at the Oldenburg Film Festival.

In Addition, for the first time the festival moved to St. Lamberti Church Oldenburg and hosted one of the most prestigious nights of them all: The presentation of the international jury and the introduction of the German Independence Honorary Award winners took place after the closing of the festival. The 18th Oldenburg International Film Festival ends on a high note with the award show for the German Independence Awards. The “German Independence Honorary Awards” was presented to guests of honor Canadian filmmaker Ted Kotcheff (Retrospective) and Roger Fritz (Tribute) by Oldenburg’s mayor Prof. Dr. Gerd Schwandner and Festival director Torsten Neumann.

The Buzz Continues

In October of 2011, The Directors Guild of Canada honored Ted Kotcheff with the DGC LIFETIME ACHIEVEMENT AWARD for Excellence in Film. Hosted by multi-talented radio-host, musician and writer Jian Ghomeshi, the 2011 DGC Awards marks the 10th anniversary of the Awards.

The Closing

Evan Husney and Drafthouse were industry attendees at Fantasia that year in 2011 and they saw the film for the first time at Fantasia. On July of 2012, Drafthouse Films, the film distribution arm of the Alamo Drafthouse Cinema announced their acquisition of North American rights to classic Australian thriller Wake In Fright. Alongside Mad Man and WalkaboutWake In Fright is widely acknowledged as one of the seminal films in the development of modern Australian cinema. Directed by Ted Kotcheff (Rambo: First Blood, North Dallas Forty)Drafthouse’s Evan Husney states that Kotcheff’s “masterwork” is one of their favorites, calling it a “stunning and dreadfully creepy film inspired a generation of accomplished Aussie filmmakers.

Timpone then later submitted the film to Film Forum in NYC, who booked the movie for a week-run this fall. Wake on Fright premieres at New York’s Film Forum on October 5 and Los Angeles’ Nuart Theater October 19. It will expand and be available on VOD in early 2013.


What we see here is a great example of love and dedication and what I call the art of being genuine and believing in The True Art of Filmmaking. A lost film that found it’s way back to the big screens even if Kotcheff waited 40 years. I truly believe that the timing is perfect and is now. I call this the rebirth of Kotcheff ‘s career back into film, The Apprenticeship of Ted Kotcheff.

About The Film

The story follows a British schoolteacher’s “descent into personal demoralization at the hands of drunken, deranged derelicts while stranded in a small town in outback Australia.”

For more information on Wake In Fright and Drafthouse Films:


Awe-inspiring, brutal and stunning, Wake in Fright is the story of John Grant, a bonded teacher who arrives in the rough outback mining town of Bundanyabba, planning to stay overnight before catching the plane to Sydney. But, as his one night stretches to five, he plunges headlong toward his own destruction. When the alcohol-induced mist lifts, the educated John Grant is no more. Instead there is a self-loathing man in a desolate wasteland, dirty, red-eyed, sitting against a tree and looking at a rifle with one bullet left… Believed lost for many years, Wake in Fright has been painstakingly restored by Australia’s National Film and Sound Archive and AtLab Deluxe, and is presented in its original uncompromising form.

About Drafthouse

Drafthouse Films, the distribution arm of Alamo Drafthouse, debuted in 2010 with the theatrical release of FOUR LIONS and was named one of Time Magazine’s “Top 10 Films Of The Year.” Drafthouse Films is dedicated to scouring the globe in search of visionary, provocative and diverse features to integrate into the ever-growing Alamo Drafthouse entertainment lifestyle brand, which along with the Alamo Drafthouse Cinemas includes: Mondo, the collectible art boutique; Fantastic Fest, the largest international genre film festival in the US; and the pop culture website Badass Digest. Drafthouse Films will distribute films theatrically and through home video, VOD and direct to consumer sales. The 2012 release slate includes Michael R. Roskam’s debut feature film and Best Foreign Language Film Academy Award-nominee BULLHEAD, Mikkel Nørgaard’s internationally acclaimed comedy KLOWN, and SXSW ’11 favorite THE FP which Moviefone calls, “a rare ready-made cult hit.” Together with producing partners Magnolia Pictures and Timpson Films, Drafthouse Films is also currently in production on the much-anticipated THE ABC’s OF DEATH — an anthology film featuring segments by 26 different directors that Fangoria calls, “a stunning roll call of some of the most exciting names in horror across the world

About Fantasia

Fantasia has debuted such acclaimed and popular films as Warner Bros.’ The Dark Knight, Orphan, The Iron Giant; The X-Men and Night Watch from 20th Century Fox; New Line Cinema’s Spawn; Lionsgate’s The Descent, The Devil’s Rejects and Cabin Fever; Final Fantasy, Hollow Man and Vampires from Columbia Pictures; Rogue Pictures’ Shaun of the Dead; Paramount Pictures’ Suspect Zero; MGM/UA’s Jeepers Creepers and Ghost World; Artisan Entertainment’s The Blair Witch Project and Stir of Echoes; Picturehouse’s King of Kong and Rocket Science; Magnolia Pictures’ The Signal and Let the Right One In and many more.

Premiere has called Fantasia “One of the most interesting genre film festivals in the world,” while the Ain’t it Cool News website deemed our event “One of the best festivals of its type in the world.” (See attached list for more rave reviews.) Coverage of Fantasia has been featured in scores of genre magazines (Rue Morgue, Cinescape and my own publication, Fangoria), trade publications (Variety, Hollywood Reporter) and fan websites (Dark Horizons, Film Threat, Creature Corner, Dread Central, etc.). Last summer we screened over 120 feature films and 100 shorts, with attendance peaking at 90,000 admissions.

Film and video companies have found Fantasia to be an essential tool in extensively promoting new films and in acquiring distribution. In addition, our Public’s Prize presentation, voted on by the audience, has emerged as an award of considerable distinction and notoriety.

About The Oldenburg Film Festival

The Oldenburg Film Festival has a tradition of covering the international movie scene in all of its aspects. This open minded approach leads to an interesting and inspiring mix of great premieres, surprising discoveries and original independent productions. An eclectic and attractive programme has been the result for the past years.

For years now the cinema trailer of the festival is one of the early highlights of every event. Famous names like Peter Lohmeyer, Doreen Jacobi, Marek Harloff or Bela B. Felsenheimer had their share in creating a loyal fan-following for this short feature. Off beat innovation and ideas against the grain are the trademarks of the festival: the trailer includes both elements and continues to excite the festival audience.

About Fangoria

Fangoria has a 30 year legacy of providing the best in horror entertainment and news coverage.

About Angel Light Pictures Entertainment Group

Angel Light Pictures Entertainment Group was created to educate and inspire future artists that have that entrepreneurial sprit, raw talent, commitment and tenacity to create a career of longevity and mastery. The company has the artistic vision and with the goal of bringing the universal themes of friendship, integrity and goodwill to the big screen and to television for worldwide audiences who are tired of the stereotyped movie formula.

About Antonio Saillant

Antonio Saillant is a presence to be known. The actor, filmmaker and innovator has produced the fantasy thriller, THE ASCENSION, starring Corbin Bernsen and a romantic dark comedy entitled HETEROSEXUALS, starring J. Robert Spencer from Broadway’s Musical “Jersey Boys.”

Believing in Saillant’s bright future, Ted Kotcheff, Director and Executive Producer to NBC’s Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, closed the deal to have Saillant to produce his documentary, THE APPRENTICESHIP OF TED KOTCHEFF, which explores Kotcheff’s life and times as a Canadian/Hollywood Director. Kotcheff, was the helmer of the first Rambo movie First Blood starring Sylvestor Stallone and Weekend at Bernie’s starring Andrew McCarthy. Kotcheff has several films under his belt but he is best known for his longevity and success with NBC’s Law & Order:SVU, where Saillant has been privileged in shadowing Kotcheff for several seasons.

Prior to starting Angel Light Pictures, Saillant was an energy consultant to corporate giants such as Con Edison and pharmaceutical companies for many years. Saillant worked with the industry’s most influential and talented people, and later expanded its range of services to include consulting with leading American and international corporations in Green productions. Saillant is best known for being a leading voice for energy policy to protect the quality of life. He is truly dedicated to tackle our region’s energy challenges and harness the economic opportunities presented by clean renewable energy.

Saillant is set to direct one of this year’s most important films, a documentary entitled CLOSING THE GAP, that will be produced by Green Angel Productions, a subsidiary of Angel Light Pictures Entertainment Group. This documentary will uncover the truth about the hole in the ozone layer over Antarctica which is considered the biggest environmental threat to our planet. Saillant recently visited the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications on Wednesday , April 18, 2012. He was the featured speaker for this years Syracuse University’s Energy Systems and Sustainability Department which completed a Showcase on a campus-wide sustainability event which highlighted students’ work in regard to environmental sustainability. This year’s showcase theme was known as “Green Economy,” with one of the main focuses being greening of the entertainment industry.

I’m the NY and National Art and Film Industry Writer for the Examiner!

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About Angel Light Pictures Entertainment Group

Angel Light Pictures Entertainment Group has a vision and passion to creating energy efficiency in movies and television. As one of the most outspoken “green” professionals in New York City and Hollywood, I am proactive in the area of energy conservation and in helping television and movie industry colleagues push their initiatives forward with green outcomes, production and results. In my career, I have previously saved energy and dollars across industries for hospital systems and universities (Columbia and NYU), pharmaceuticals and major businesses in New York City and New Jersey, including Radio City Music Hall, the old Yankee Stadium, The Hebrew Home of the Age and The Jewish Home Lifecare in New York. In the past decade, I’ve combined my knowledge of the energy business with the entertainment industry in hope of contributing to a green planet. With sustainable solutions for our planet, my Green Angel Company is committed to demonstrating that the movie and television industry can be responsible, using tactics and strategies for green energy. In my career, I have provided hundreds of clients with energy and sustainable solutions, regarding the perceptions, barriers and opportunities for energy efficiency and I will continue to do so. Saillant will be directing a documentary on The Legendary Canadian Hollywood Director, Ted Kotcheff.
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