TITLE: The Moogai
Director: Jon Bell
Screenwriter: Jon Bell
Synopsis: Sarah (Shari Sebbens) and Fergus (Meyne Wyatt), a hopeful young Aboriginal couple, give birth to their second baby. But what should be a joyous time of their lives becomes sinister when Sarah starts seeing a malevolent spirit she is convinced is trying to take her baby. Fergus, who can’t see it but desperately wants to believe her, grows increasingly worried as she becomes more unbalanced. Is the child-stealing spirit real or is she in fact the biggest threat to the safety of their family?
Sales Agent: Bankside Films
Panelists: Shari Sebbens, Meyne Wyatt and Bella Heathcote
First screening: January 21
Key quotes: Of her draw to reteam with Bell on The Moogai following their work together on series The Gods of Wheat Street, Sebbens said: “The script, for me personally, the reason I’m drawn to it is Jon’s writing genre. Indigenous people in Australia getting to dip their toe into the genre pool for the first time was really exciting, and of course, the allegory, the messaging, and the underlying story that addresses our shameful and tragic history in Australia, which is the Stolen Generations.”
On the future of Aboriginal storytelling, Sebbens said:
“Genre, that’s where it’s at, at the moment. That’s where the exciting stuff’s happening. I think the future, though, is letting us stuff up more than once. Historically, we’re only allowed to make one grand entrance, and if we get it wrong, we don’t get another chance. So, I think that for me, the exciting version of the future is where Aboriginal people get to be a bit mediocre as well, actually, instead of always striving for excellence.”
The Deadline Studio at Sundance ran from January 19-23 at Montgomery-Lee Fine Art on Main Street, when the cast and creatives behind the best and buzziest titles in this year’s lineup sat down with Deadline’s festival team to discuss their movies and the paths they took to get to Park City.