VIA SATELLITE (1998) [Feature]

New Zealand (MIFF 1998 , International Panorama)
Director: Anthony McCarten

Twenty year-old Carol Dunn is set to win a surprise medal for New Zealand at the Olympics. Her family are caught up in the euphoria back home as a local television crew arrive and set up to film the family watching Carol's finest moment. On air, everything's about to climax. Chrissy, Carol's unsuccessful identical twin sister, refuses to watch. Paul, a young cameraman, realises that behind the suburban smiles lie family tensions and a closet-full of skeletons.

Filmed almost entirely in seven rooms of a family home, Via Satellite places the middle-class Dunn family under the largest microscope on Earth, a global satellite. Every crack becomes a gulf, every wrinkle a chasm. Both Carol and her twin sister Chrissy (Danielle Cormack, seen in everything from Topless Women Talk About Their Lives to Xena) perfectly capture the variance between the two sisters as well as the bond that is shared by siblings.

Anthony McCarten's script began as a stage play, his inspiration came while watching New Zealand Olympian, Mark Todd, on TV:
"What struck me at once were a number of vivid contrasts, all of which created a dramatic tension. International glory coupled with domestic ordinariness. Sudden fame with humdrum obscurity... The champion, and the champion's family... Sudden victory and sudden loss. Life as it's lived." - Anthony McCarten

Anthony McCarten has written, produced and directed several stage plays, including the comedy Ladies Night, which toured Europe, NZ and Australia, earned NZ$2 million at the box office. His short films have screened at film festivals in NZ, one of which has been sold to Channel 4 in the UK. Topping this off, McCarten's first novel, Spinners, is due to be published this year in Britain, USA and New Zealand.

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