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Director Roderick MacKay will make his feature film debut with The Furnace with TIFF rising star, Ahmed Malekand Australia’s David Wenham to headline the cast.
Set in Western Australia’s 1890s gold rush, The Furnace is an unlikely hero’s tale, navigating greed and the search for identity in a new land.
The film, set to go into production in Western Australia next month, has received principal production investment from Screen Australia, in association with Screenwest and Lotterywest and the Western Australian Regional Film Fund.
The project is the debut feature film for Writer/Director Roderick MacKay, and will be produced by Timothy White (I Am Mother) and Tenille Kennedy (H is for Happiness). Other key creatives include Director of Photography Mick McDermott (Hounds of Love), Production Designer Clayton Jauncey (Last Cab to Darwin), Costume Designer Lisa Gunning Galea (Below) & Editor Merlin Eden (Hounds of Love).
Leading a diverse ensemble cast will be one of Toronto International Film Festival’s 2018 Rising Stars, Ahmed Malek, who will play Hanif, a young cameleer who forms a partnership with a bushman on the run with Crown gold. The bushman, Mal, will be played by long-time supporter of the project and celebrated Australian actor, David Wenham. Together, they must outwit zealous troopers in a race to reset the gold bars at a secret furnace.
The film will also star Venice Film Festival’s 2018 Best New Talent winner, Baykali Ganambarr (The Nightingale), Trevor Jamieson (Cleverman), Erik Thomson (Storm Boy), Mahesh Jadu (Marco Polo) and Osamah Sami (Ali’s Wedding).
The Furnace illuminates the forgotten history of Australia’s ‘Ghan’ cameleers, predominantly Muslim and Sikh men from India, Afghanistan and Persia, who opened up the Nation’s desert interior, and formed unique bonds with local Aboriginal people.
“I’m thrilled to have this opportunity to shine a light on a crucial yet little known chapter of Australia’s history, celebrating the cultural diversity of our early pioneers,” said MacKay. “In addition to our talented and diverse supporting cast, I could not be more excited to be working with iconic Australian actor, David Wenham, and rising Egyptian star, Ahmed Malek, whose heartfelt performances will anchor the story’s rugged gold rush setting.”
The Furnace will be distributed in Australia and New Zealand by Umbrella Films.