Top End WeddingThe story of Ladies in Black and Top End Wedding
Ladies in Black and Top End Wedding are two feature films that showcase the diversity and enduring popularity of local stories.
One is a coming-of-age story set in 1959 in Sydney, while the other is a romantic comedy set in modern-day Northern Territory.
For Ladies in Black producer/co-writer Sue Milliken and director/co-writer Bruce Beresford it was a 24-year-journey translating the beloved book to the screen.
“After about 12 years of getting no interest… I did give it up,” Milliken admitted. “But Bruce never gave up. He just loved it. He saw the movie.”
When producer Allanah Zitserman signed on, together they streamlined the pitch, took it back out to market and secured a deal with Sony Pictures – not just for Australia, but for a global distribution deal. It was approved for major production investment from Screen Australia in March 2017 and began shooting in October the same year. Following its September 2018 release, it earned $12.02 million at the domestic box office and was the second highest-grossing Australian film of 2018, only behind Peter Rabbit.
Audiences also clamoured to see Top End Wedding, which was produced by Goalpost Pictures, directed by Wayne Blair (The Sapphires), and co-written by and starring Miranda Tapsell. A fresh and modern romcom told from an Indigenous perspective, it was approved for major production investment from Screen Australia in June 2017 and began filming across South Australia and the Northern Territory in April 2018. It made its world premiere at Sundance Film Festival in 2019 as one of a record-breaking six Australian films to be selected. Australians were finally able to see it from May 2019 through Universal Pictures, where it earned more than $5.2 million at the local box office.1
Miranda Tapsell said: “It’s celebrating a culture that’s more than 65,000 years old… but also, it really speaks to the kind of Australia that I want to see and I know other Australians want to see. To have that depicted in a romcom is really, really special and I hope that more films like Top End Wedding get made.”
- In 2018/19 $14 million was provided in production funding to 20 feature films with budgets totalling $71.5 million
- $2.3 million was provided in development funding to 34 films and 28 television shows through the Story Development program.
See appendix 3 for a full list of feature projects approved for development and production funding in 2018/19.