Mary and Max Cast: (voices of) Philip Seymour Hoffman, Toni Collette, Eric Bana, Molly Meldrum and Barry Humphries.
Director: Adam Elliot
Producer :Melanie Coombs
Running Time: 92 minutes
The first Australian film ever to open the Sundance Film Festival.
WINNER - Special Mention at the 2009 Berlinale.
Now it's Melbourne's turn to see Mary and Max.
Mary and Max is the acclaimed debut feature from the magical minds of Academy Award Winners (Harvie Krumpet) Adam Elliot and Melanie Coombs.
Mary and Max is a simple tale of pen-friendship between two very different people; Mary Dinkle, a chubby lonely eight year old girl living in the suburbs of Melbourne, and Max Horovitz, a 44 year old, severely obese, Jewish man with Asperger's Syndrome living in the chaos of New York.
Spanning 20 years and 2 continents, Mary and Max's friendship survives much more than the average diet of life's ups and downs. Like Harvie Krumpet, Mary and Max is innocent but not naive, as it takes us on a journey that explores friendship, autism, taxidermy, psychiatry, alcoholism, where babies come from, obesity, kleptomania, sexual difference, trust, copulating dogs, religious difference, agoraphobia and much much more
Mary and Max is voiced by Academy Award winner Philip Seymour Hoffman who is joined by Australian talent, Academy Award Nominee Toni Collette (Little Miss Sunshine, In Her Shoes), Eric Bana (Romulus My Father, Chopper) and Barry Humphries.
Tell me a little bit about Mary and Max:
Adam Elliot : Mary and Max is my new film and it has taken five years to make and cost over eight million dollars with a crew of over 120 people. It is a heart-felt comedy.
How does it feel to have big names like Philip Seymour Hoffman, Toni Collette, Eric Bana, Molly Meldrum and Barry Humphries?
Adam Elliot : On Harvie Krumpet we had Geoffrey Rush and I have worked with big named actors before, I have got used to working with them. They are just like normal people, everybody else. Once they get into the sound booth they are there to do a job, they all did wonderful jobs. I was very relived there was no-one I had to re-cast.
How was it to see your final creation after five years?
Adam Elliot : It was a lot of money and 66% of the budget was tax payers money, meaning there was a lot of responsibility as well as being the opening film at the Sundance Film Festival. It is the first time ever they have opened with an animated feature film, as well as the first time they have ever opened with an Australian film. Standing up there with Robert Redford and a huge audience, about 2000 people. Put it this way it was a sweat-pits day. It was a directors dream to be there and to have their film be opening night at the Sundance Film Festival. It was very humbling.
What makes Mary and Max different to your other films?
Adam Elliot : Well apart from the length, it is of feature length, it is that it is more ambitious. With a feature film you can really investigate the characters a lot more. My films are what I call clayographies (clay-biographies). You can really get to know the characters a lot better in a longer format. Mary and Max had higher production values, there are more details and the animation is more fluid. It is more cinematic, I suppose.
Where did the idea for Mary and Max come from?
Adam Elliot : All my films are based on people around me, family and friends. This time when we came back from Hollywood, I thought, who am I going to write about next? I have this pen-friend that I have been writing to for 20 years, his name is not Max, but we're keeping his name a secret! Well I thought I would start re-reading all his letters, he is a very interesting person, he inspired Max. There are all pieces of the film that are made up some are completely fabricated and not real. It isn't an actual account of his life but he does live in New York, he is Jewish, he does have Asoerger's Syndrome. I got his permission when I first started writing, five years ago. He is very excited about it, he hasn't seen it yet as it hasn't been shown in New York. He can't wait to see it.
Do you think Australia will respond to Mary and Max the same way they did with Harvie Krumpet?
Adam Elliot : I don't know. It is hard to say. My films are all very similar, so you hope that. I try and write for everybody. I try and write for people in Switzerland, Australia and America. It is a very universal story about friendship, so hopefully everyone will connect with it. We have been having a lot of sneak previews all over Australia and it has been sold out in every state. The audience are loving it, you can't please everybody; there will be a few reviewers that won't like it. It is receiving 5 star reviews though.
Mary and Max is in cinemas April 9, 2009.
Interview by Brooke Hunter