Filmmaker Baz Luhrmann is set to debut Faraway Downs, the expanded and reimagined cut of his 2008 feature Australia, at the inaugural SXSW Sydney Screen Festival later this month.
The project will debut on October 21 down under before hitting Hulu and Disney+ in all other territories on Nov 26. The film’s structure has been expanded to unravel across what has been described as “six chapters.”
Starring Nicole Kidman, Hugh Jackman, Bryan Brown, Brandon Walters, and Ben Mendelsohn, the story centers on English aristocrat Lady Sarah Ashley (Kidman), who travels halfway across the world to confront her wayward husband and sell an unusual asset: Faraway Downs, a million-acre cattle ranch in the Australian outback. Following the death of her husband, a ruthless Australian cattle baron, King Carney (Bryan Brown) plots to take her land, and she reluctantly joins forces with a rough-hewn cattle drover (Hugh Jackman) to protect her ranch.
Synopsis reads: The sweeping adventure-romance is explored through the eyes of young Nullah (Brandon Walters), an Indigenous Australian child caught up in the government’s Draconian racial policy now referred to as the Stolen Generations. Together, the trio experiences four life-altering years, a love affair between Lady Ashley and the drover, and the unavoidable impact of World War II on Northern Australia.
“I was inspired to re-approach my film Australia to create Faraway Downs because of the way episodic storytelling has been reinvigorated by the streaming world,” said Luhrmann. “With over 2 million feet of film from the original piece, my team and I were able to revisit anew the central themes of the work. I am honored to world premiere “Faraway Downs” in Australia, the place that has inspired me and my work my entire life, and with a partner like SXSW who deeply recognizes the intersection of film, television, and music with storytelling.”
Australia was directed, produced (with Catherine Knapman and G. Mac Brown), and co-written by Baz Luhrmann, alongside writers Stuart Beattie, Ronald Harwood, and Richard Flanagan, with production and costume design by multiple-Academy Award winner Catherine Martin. Faraway Downs is executive produced by Luhrmann, Martin, Knapman, and Schuyler Weiss. 20th Television is the studio.
Colin Daniels, SXSW Sydney Managing Director, added: “We are so happy to be sharing the creative work of Baz Luhrmann and the entire Faraway Downs team at Australia’s first ever SXSW Sydney.”
With a program that includes feature films, shorts, TV premieres, music videos, and XR, the SXSW Sydney 2023 Screen Festival takes place Oct 15-21.