Ann Turner

Ann Turner Biography

Ann Turner is an author, screenwriter and director, and graduate of the Victorian College of the Arts School of Film and Television. An avid reader and history lover, she is drawn to salt-sprayed coasts, luminous landscapes and the people who inhabit them all over the world. 

Ann’s films include the historical feature Celia starring Rebecca Smart, which Time Out listed as one of the fifty greatest directorial debuts of all time. Celia was described by Janet Maslin in the New York Times as ‘transfixing, assured, extremely lucid’, by Tom Hutchinson in The Mail as ‘one of those classics of childhood such as Reed’s The Fallen Idol or Truffaut’s The 400 Blows’ and by Phillip French in The Observer as ‘a work to be set beside Richard Hughes’s A High Wind in Jamaica and William Golding’s Lord of the Flies.’ Celia was chosen as one of the 10 Best Films for 1989 by the Seattle Times/Post Intelligencer, and was on the 10 Best List for 1990 of The Village Voice, Film Comment and The Face. In 2014 Samuel Wigley on the British Film Institute website listed Celia in ‘10 great films about childhood’ alongside works by directors Ingmar Bergman, Stephen Spielberg, Louis Malle, Yasujiro Ozu, Satyajit Ray, Carlos Saura and John Boorman. In 2015 the film magazine Little White Lies included Celia in 100 Great Movies By Female Directors, celebrating the greatest female artists in the film industry from 1912 to 2014. In 2016 Leigh Singer on The BFI website included Celia in ‘10 great dark suburbia films’ in a list with All That Heaven Allows, The Swimmer, The Stepford Wives, Poltergeist and Blue Velvet. Horror aficionado Kim Newman called Celia ‘one of the great movies about the terrors, wonders and strangeness of childhood.’ The script of Celia received the Australian Writers’ Guild Monte Miller Award for Best Unproduced Screenplay and the film won the Grand Prix at the Creteil International Women’s Film Festival in 1989. It was nominated for Best Film at the Sitges Catalonian International Film Festival. In 2017 the National Film and Sound Archive of Australia digitally restored Celia. This version had its world premiere at the 2017 Melbourne International Film Festival, where Nick Dent in Time Out called it ‘an out-and-out film masterpiece, one of the best films about childhood since The 400 Blows.’

Ann’s other films include director and co-writer of Hammers Over the Anvil, an adaptation of Alan Marshall’s short stories, starring Russell Crowe and Charlotte Rampling (nominated for an Australian Writers’ Guild AWGIE award for Best Adapted Screenplay); the film adaptation for Blanche D’Alpuget’s novel Turtle Beach, starring Greta Scacchi and Joan Chen, for which Ann won the AWGIE Award for Best Adapted Screenplay; Dallas Doll (nominated for an AWGIE Award for Best Original Screenplay), a black comedy that introduced Rose Byrne in her first feature film role; and the psychological thriller Irresistible starring Susan Sarandon, Sam Neill and Emily Blunt, which was shortlisted for a Queensland Premier’s Literary Award (Film Script) and nominated for an AWGIE Award for Best Original Screenplay. Ann also made the short film Bathing Boxes, based on a Jeffrey Smart painting, as part of the series Picture House for the BBC and Arts Council of England, which included films by Atom Egoyan, Krzysztof Zanussi, Claire Denis and Raul Ruiz.

During film school, Ann climbed tall towers to film horse races for racing stewards. She was involved in film culture as Creative Development Officer at Film Victoria, has been Senior Script Consultant at the Australian Film Commission, and lectured in film at the Victorian College of the Arts. Ann’s films have sold to all corners of the world and screened at festivals including Berlin, New York, New Directors New Films, London, Edinburgh, Chicago, Seattle, Melbourne, Stranger With My Face, Göteborg, Sitges, Madrid-Móstoles, Hamburg and Oberhausen.

Ann’s bestselling debut novel The Lost Swimmer, a psychological thriller about the consequences of love and trust, was published by Simon and Schuster Australia in 2015, with a mass-market edition in 2016. It was also published in 2016 by Simon and Schuster UK and released in the United States in 2017. The Lost Swimmer was shortlisted for a 2016 Davitt Award in the category of Debut Fiction and long-listed for the 2016 Indie Book Awards - Debut Fiction. It was Readings Bookstore’s Book of the Month in June 2015, one of iBooks’ Best Books of June, and Better Reading’s Book of the Week June 9th 2015. Kobo listed it in the Best Aussie Reads of 2015.


Ann’s second novel, Out of the Ice, a mystery thriller set in an abandoned Antarctic whaling station, explores the dark side of human progress and a past and present of tragedy, deception and survival. It was published by Simon and Schuster Australia in 2016, with a mass-market edition in 2017, and came out with Simon and Schuster UK in October 2017. It will be available in the US in February 2018. Out of the Ice was shortlisted in the Best Crime Fiction category of the 2017 Ned Kelly Awards, Australia’s leading literary awards for crime writing. It was one of iBooks Australia’s Best Books of June 2016, Kobo’s Mystery & Suspense Pick of the Month, Newslink’s Pick of the Month - Literary Fiction, a Collins Booksellers Fiction Book of the Month and a Better Reading Book of the Week. Kobo listed it in the Best Books of 2016.

Ann is currently working on the film adaptation of The Lost Swimmer which is being produced by Sue Maslin (The Dressmaker, Japanese Story), with script development support from Screen Australia. Ann is also writing her third novel. Ann was born in Adelaide and lives in Melbourne.

Author photo by Kristian Gehradte