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Leah Purcell’s The Drover’s Wife The Legend of Molly Johnson and Australian feature documentary Under The Volcano will both celebrate world premieres at SXSX.
Directed by Gracie Otto and produced by Cody Greenwood, Under the Volcano charts the rise and fall of AIR Studios Montserrat, the recording studio at the centre of the pop universe in the 1980s. Built by Beatles’ producer Sir George Martin in 1979, AIR Studios Montserrat was a custom-built, state-of-the-art recording facility tucked away on a Caribbean paradise.
In the shadow of an active volcano, the studio not only attracted the biggest musical talent on the planet, but was the birthplace of mega-hits such as that defined the sound of the 80s. For a decade, AIR Montserrat formed the backdrop to monumental events in music history including the break-up of The Police, the reunion of The Rolling Stones, and the reinvigoration of Paul McCartney after the tragic murder of John Lennon. After a decade of hits, and at the peak of its popularity, the studio was destroyed when the island was hit by a series of devastating natural disasters.
The documentary is a celebration of the creative process, and tells the story of the world’s most iconic recording artists including The Police, Paul McCartney, Duran Duran, The Rolling Stones, Elton John, Earth Wind and Fire and the Dire Straits. The film features interviews from the likes of Sting and Mark Knopfler, as well as personal archive from artists such as Sir Paul McCartney and Stewart Copeland.
Based on the Henry Lawson short story and re-imagined for a modern audience by Leah Purcell, The Drover’s Wife The Legend of Molly Johnson tells the story of a woman and her stubborn determination to protect her family from the harshness of a life in 1893, Snowy Mountains. Both a searing thriller and a stark revisionist Western, the film offers a powerful new interrogation of Australian history and culture through the determination of a woman to ensure her children are given a future filled with hope.
Filmed on location in Australia’s dramatic high country, The Drover’s Wife The Legend of Molly Johnson is the feature adaptation of Leah Purcell’s hugely successful stage play. Amongst the play’s many accolades it received the national Helpmann Award for Best Play and Best New Australian Work, the David Williamson Prize for excellence in writing for Australian theatre and the AWGIE’s Major Award.
Leah Purcell directed and stars in the film and wrote the screenplay. She is joined in the cast by Rob Collins (Cleverman, The Wrong Girl), Sam Reid (Lambs of God, The Railway Man), Jessica de Gouw (Arrow, Gretel & Hansel), Malachi Dower-Roberts, Tony Cogin and Harry Greenwood.
Short film The Moogai, music video for Julia Stone’s Break, and immersive art piece Of Hybrids and Strings will also screen at the festival.
Keep an eye on cinemaaustralia.com.au for Australian release date announcements for both films.