04/09/2020 - 10:00

From red dirt to red carpet

04/09/2020 - 10:00

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Western Australian feature film The Furnace will have its world premiere at the 77th chapter of the Venice Film Festival today, the only Australian movie selected for the festival this year.

From red dirt to red carpet
The Furnace was shot in late 2019 in regional Western Australia. Photo: Screenwest website.

Western Australian feature film The Furnace will have its world premiere at the 77th chapter of the Venice Film Festival today, the only Australian movie selected for the festival this year.

The film is Perth-based writer Roderick MacKay’s directorial debut and will screen as part of the Orizzionti Competition, which features international cinema from new filmmakers.

The Furnace is a historical drama based on Australia’s Afghan cameleers, who worked and travelled in WA during the period.

Set against the backdrop of WA during the 1890s goldrush, it was shot in late 2019 on Yamatji Badimia country in Mount Magnet and Yamatji Nanda country in Kalbarri.

It depicts the partnership of an Australian bushman on the run (David Wenham) and a young Afghan cameleer (Ahmed Malek), and their journey to escape a police sergeant through WA.

The film received funding support from The Western Australian Regional Film Fund, Screenwest and Lotterywest.

Business News spoke to The Furnace producer Tenille Kennedy, who missed the premiere to stay in Perth and look after her young son.

“I’m very sad not to be there,” she said. 

Ms Kennedy was also a producer for H is for Happiness and was directly approached by Mr MacKay to work on The Furnace.

“Roderick made a comment earlier saying they’ve gone from the red dirt in Mount Magnet to the red carpet in Venice,” she said.

“He is so passionate and incredibly ambitious, his energy is infectious.”

Ms Kennedy said it was a great honour to be showcasing a piece of WA history on the world stage.

“It was amazing being in the outback in WA ... the community in Kalbarri was so welcoming,” she said.

Screen Australia CEO Graeme Mason said The Furnace showcased a fascinating part of WA’s history.

“To have the world premiere of this compelling drama at Venice Film Festival’s Orizzonti section is a real coup and doubly impressive for Roderick MacKay’s debut feature,” he said.

“We are proud to see The Furnace represent our screen industry on the world stage and showcase a fascinating part of our history alongside the natural beauty of WA.”

Melbourne-based Umbrella Films will distribute the film in Australia and New Zealand.

 

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