Director: Mark Forstmann
Running Time: 90 minutes
Be careful what you search for....
This feature film debut from Mark Forstmann is a beautiful and dramatic journey into the unforgiving landscape of the New South Wales' Blue Mountains, following five friends on the search for one of the world's rarest trees, the Wollemi Pine, often referred to as a 'Monkey Puzzle' tree.
Forstmann is a proactive spokesman for environmental issues, and is one of the original 80 presenters that include Cate Blanchett, for Al Gore's climate change program, as organised through the Australian Conservation Foundation. Taking these credentials and an active relationship with the bush, Forstmann has created a haunting 'landscape film' that explores the effects on the human psyche from this sometimes inhospitable wilderness.
Five friends abseil down into a remote rainforest canyon, but a series of mishaps hamper their adventure. Tensions in the group quickly surface. As the friends become engulfed by the harsh terrain, they come face-to-face with their most personal secrets and fears on a journey which will test their perceptions of friendship, intimacy and the nature of their pasts.
The best of guerrilla filmmaking, Monkey Puzzle was shot on location in the canyons of the Blue Mountains, the first Australian feature film to do so, with cinematographer Justine Kerrigan shooting on Super16mm film and capturing the action with available light only. The cast and crew found themselves abseiling into remote locations to shoot the film, immersing themselves in the heartland of the bush and 'living' the experience of their characters.
The Wollemi Pine is a prehistoric tree recently discovered in the Blue Mountains, which according to scientists, should have died out with the dinosaurs. Its location is shrouded in secrecy as a preservation measure, and has developed a reputation as a type of 'Holy Grail'. Monkey Puzzle taps into that mystery, exploring the theme "be careful what you search for".
But finding the tree, or not, is less important than the journey itself and the lessons learnt along the way.
Featuring some of Australia's top young actors Monkey Puzzle stars Ryan Johnson (Out Of The Blue, Underbelly, All My Friends are Leaving Brisbane, Secret Life of Us), Ben Geurens (McLeod's Daughters, Home & Away, Neighbours, The Man from Snowy River), Ella Scott Lynch (Charlotte's Web, The Falls, All Saints), Billie Rose Prichard (Candy, The Silence) and Socratis Otto (Matrix Reloaded, The Rage in Placid Lake).
Special Features: 41 minutes of bonus features. Audio commentary with director and producer, Mark Forstmann and Tamara Popper. Making-of featurette and the original theatrical trailer.