Helen Mirren is looking suitably spooky in her latest role. With the veteran English actress finishing filming the supernatural thriller Winchester in Melbourne before a shoot at a reputedly haunted house in California, the filmmakers have released a first picture of her in character.
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The Gosford Park and The Queen star plays firearm heiress Sarah Winchester, who was convinced she was haunted by the souls killed at the hands of the Winchester repeating rifle. After the sudden deaths of her husband and child, she threw herself into building a mansion designed to keep the evil spirits at bay.

The film has a San Francisco psychiatrist (Jason Clarke) sent to the estate to evaluate her state of mind, helping her realise she might not be as insane as she believes.

Michael and Peter Spierig, best known for Daybreakers and Predestination, are directing, and the cast includes Sarah Snook and Angus Sampson.

The mansion, with 160 rooms, is considered a landmark in San Jose and has been described as one of “the top 10 haunted places” in the world.

Aardman founders head to town

Big news for Aardman Animation fans. Peter Lord and David Sproxton, the founders of the English animation studio behind Wallace & Gromit, Shaun The Sheep and Chicken Run, are heading to Melbourne for a series of talks and workshops next month. Wallace & Gromit and Friends: The Magic of Aardman

Aardman’s famous characters … the studio’s founders are heading to Australia.

They will open the exhibition Wallace & Gromit And Friends: The Magic Of Aardman at the Australian Centre for the Moving Image and present a claymation masterclass hosted by Oscar-winning Australian animator Adam Elliot on June 29. Over the next two days, they will walk audiences through the life of the studio at the cinema event A Night Out With Aardman, then Lord will host 25 professional and emerging animators in Make A Morph with Peter Lord.

The centre will screen a retrospective of Aardman’s films including Shaun The Sheep Movie, The Pirates! Band of Misfits, The Curse of the Were-Rabbit, Arthur Christmas, Flushed Away, Chicken Run and a compilation of short films in The Aardman Collection.

Award for sexual abuse film ahead of release

In a timely boost before its release next week, the low-profile Australian film Don’t Tell has won the audience award from its world premiere at the Newport Beach Film Festival in California.

Centring on a landmark sexual abuse case for damages against an Anglican school, it is based on a book by lawyer Stephen Roach, who represented a 22-year-old woman known only as Lyndal (played by Sara West) when she took action against Toowoomba Preparatory School in 2001. The school had denied she was sexually abused by a boarding house master (Gyton Grantley) a decade earlier.

Audience award winner: Rachel Griffiths and Aden Young in Don’t Tell.

The impressive cast also includes Rachel Griffiths, Jack Thompson, Aden Young and Jacqueline McKenzie.

Director Tori Garrett has called Don’t Tell a “riveting” courtroom drama about the important story that triggered new regulations and contributed to the creation of the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse.

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