PAPER PLANES

Category: Edition 2015

Synopsis
A young boy from Australia named Dylan, eleven year-old, has a passion for flight and, after he unexpectedly wins a school paper-plane contest and qualifies for the Australian national championships in Sydney, he ends up competing in the World Paper Plane Championships in Japan. He faces distraction and hostility from a school bully, as well as his father, still grieving over the death of his mother in an automobile accident, and his chief rival, the spoiled win-at-all-costs Jason, the son of a respected golfer. He is inspired by his devil-may-care former World War II RAAF fighter-pilot grandfather, a kite-hawk he feeds on his way to school and later a Japanese paper plane champion, a girl named Kimi. Dylan and Kimi develop a close bond, challenging each other to create a plane that has never been seen before.

Original Title PAPER PLANES
Category Official Competition
Section Elements +10
Tipology Feature Film
Duration 97'
Production Year 2014
Nationality Australia
Directed by Robert Connolly
Screenplay Robert Connolly, Steve Worland
Director of photography Tristan Milani
Editor Nick Meyers
Production Design Clayton Jauncey
Costume Design Lien See Leong
Sound Chris Goodes
Music Nigel Westlake
Main cast Ed Oxenbould (Dylan)
Sam Worthington (Jack)
Ena Imai (Kimi)
Deborah Mailman (Maureen)
Nicholas Bakopoulos-Cooke (Jason)
Julian Dennison (Kevin)
Produced by Robert Connolly, Maggie Miles, Liz Kearney

Robert-Connolly regOK

Robert Connolly
Born 1967, Sydney (Australia). He is a director, screenwriter and producer. He is a graduate of the Australian Film Television and Radio School (AFTRS), where he directed a number of short films, including MR. IKEGAMI’S FLIGHT (1994), TUNNEL VISION (1996), RUST BUCKET (1997). In 2001 he directed his first feature film, THE BANK, followed by THREE DOLLARS (2005), BALIBO (2009), UNDERGROUND: THE JULIAN ASSANGE STORY (2012). PAPER PLANES was screened at the Berlin Film Festival 2015 in the Generation Kplus section.

Director’s statement
“PAPER PLANES is the story of an 11 year old boy from the bush who discovers one day that he has the genius skill of making paper planes and how far that takes him. He goes to Sydney – he’s never been to Sydney before and beyond that he ends up in Tokyo competing in the World Junior Paper Plane Championships.

“It’s the story of his friendship with a young Japanese girl Kimi, who is the Japanese Paper Plane Champion and what she shows and teaches him about Japan and this other world.

“But at the heart of it for me is that it’s a story of a young boy and his dad, trying to make a life. It’s a great relationship and a great dynamic, that kids have with their parents – challenging, fun, there’s a bit of conflict, there’s love and I think for me, looking at the film now, that friendship – of this little fella and his dad – is at the heart of the story.

“I wanted to make PAPER PLANES as a kids film initially for my own kids. I’m a filmmaker with an 11 year old and a 9 year old and I thought ‘I’ve got to make a film for them’ and wanted to take them to films that were Australian, where the heroes of the film were Australian kids.

“There was an era of cinema that I loved and grew up with in Australia and I thought maybe there’s an audience for that today. So I set about on this adventure over the last four years that’s led me here now to having made PAPER PLANES.

“From seeing a lot of films with my kids, what they look for are heroes in the film that are kids. They don’t want to watch films led by adults, they don’t want to live their life led by adults – they want to go to the cinema and see a hero who is like them, driving the story.

“I showed one of the earlier drafts of the script for PAPER PLANES to my 11 year old and I asked her what she thought and she said ‘I really like it but it needs to be funnier’ and I think she was right, kids want comedy, they want a good laugh, they want to be entertained by a bit of play. So I brought on another writer – Steve Worland, who’s a novelist and a good friend, to write up the comedy and have a bit more fun with it and its been fantastic to see that comedy come through because kids really enjoy laughing in the cinema. They like to be scared, they like to feel excited but I think a good kids film has to have humour at the heart. We had a lot of fun writing three lead kids who were 11-12 years old, and making them drive this story, not the adults.

“It’s always challenging writing a kids film – how much danger and tension and how much light and shade can you put in to the film. If I think of the films I loved as a kid they all take you somewhere emotionally – they make you laugh, they make you cry, they make you scared and I think it’s really important not to patronize kids, they love emotional range, they love to feel the ebb and flow of life on the screen.

“I’ve thrown a lot of that in Paper Planes, it’s a safe place for little kids, it’s not pushing the boundaries too much, but there is an emotional journey in there for the kids which is pretty exciting. I think it is important to take kids on a really visceral journey, where they enjoy the challenges of the story as well as the fun and the comedy of it.

“I remember as a kid our whole school going to see the Australian kids film STORM BOY – it changed my life, I would still say to this day that it is my favourite Australian film. It’s profoundly moving, it’s funny, it’s sad, it’s got amazing performances – it’s a delightful film.

“And after that, as I got a bit older, there was a whole generation of them. I remember seeing FATTY FINN – a delightful film, people would laugh at me for thinking this, but I remember loving it when I saw it, and also BMX BANDITS, an early film with Nicole Kidman.

“There was something fun as kids about going to the cinema and seeing Australian kids up there, having a crazy adventure. Those films created in me a love of Australian cinema and here I am, over thirty years later, making a kids film, here I am working in that industry because I saw what Australian films could be like at a very young age.

“My hope is that PAPER PLANES is part of a whole new movement of films that show Australian kids and Australian stories at the cinema.

“The key relationships in PAPER PLANES are between the kids. It’s Dylan’s relationship with Kimi, the new friend he makes, his relationship with Kevin, his best mate back home, with Jason, his rival. Watching my own kids and looking at the dynamics between kids and the world that they inhabit and the friendships and the competition and the complexity of it all is a lot of fun and in the film I really worked with that.

“The other relationships are between the kids and the adults. A young boy and his dad – it’s a young boy looking at his dad and realizing that his dad is suffering from some form of depression and that he hasn’t come out of his shell since the loss of his wife.

“Dylan’s friendship with his grandfather is amazing (played by Terry Norris). I think one of the things that’s a huge part of 21st century life, because most adult are working, is the relationship kids form with their grandparents. I think its extremely close and influential and I hope we’ve captured this in the film – that grandparents can play the mischievous playful parent role, they don’t have to do all the disciplining which is why I think young kids have that great relationship with their grandparents.

“Directing the kids in PAPER PLANES was one of the great highlights of my career. Their performances are honest, they’re fun. Generally speaking, I think kids just don’t get it wrong, they’re like people who can’t sing out of tune, they can’t fake it and when you call action, they’re not starting to act.

“All of them had to learn how to make an amazing paper plane and they all make a different paper plane – a signature plane. If you watch through the film you can see the different techniques they all use to try and win the world championship.

“One thing I’ve found in making this film is that kids love making paper planes. They all have different skills and different techniques. The joy I have seen in kids who have never made one before – making a plane and throwing it for the first time. Once you teach them a few tricks too, about getting a bit of weight in the head, how you fold the wings and then the planes go further, it’s even better.

“In some ways PAPER PLANES is a film for the 21st century – filled with so much technology. It is a film about the joy that you can have with a mere sheet of paper.

“My feeling is, having shown the film to a lot of kids already and involving hundreds of kids in making it, that making paper planes is a universally fun thing to do. They teach you about aerodynamics and creativity.

“I think the pleasure in unlocking the secrets of how to make the perfect paper plane is something kids love, so I’ve put a few clues in the film. Kids who watch the film will learn a few tricks about how to make that great paper plane”.

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