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Kieran Darcy-Smith to helm ‘Helena’

Mandeville Films producing Matt Cook's Black List script

Aussie helmer Kieran Darcy-Smith, whose feature directorial debut “Wish You Were Here” premiered at the Sundance Film Festival earlier this year, is attached to direct Matt Cook’s 2009 Black List script “By Way of Helena.”

Mandeville Films toppers David Hoberman and Todd Lieberman are set to produce the period pic, which is set in Helena, Texas.

Story follows a Texas Ranger and his Mexican bride who are sent to investigate a mysterious frontier town where multiple Mexican bodies keep washing up on the riverbank. What they discover is an idyllic community where everything is not as it seems.

Violent indie project is currently in development and not set up at a studio, let alone at family-friendly Disney, where Mandeville has a first-look deal.

Variety critic John Anderson described Darcy-Smith’s “Wish You Were Here” as an “incandescent feature debut” that featured “taut construction, deft acting and a gift for keeping auds off balance.” Helmer co-wrote the psychological thriller with his wife Felicity Price, who also stars alongside Joel Edgerton and Teresa Palmer. Entertainment One acquired North American distribution rights in January and announced it would release the pic stateside this fall, though there is no firm release date in place.

Darcy-Smith started his career in front of the camera, appearing on the hit Oz series “Home and Away” before landing a role in Screen Gems’ 2005 creature feature “The Cave.” He went on to co-star in David Michod’s “Animal Kingdom” and Nash Edgerton’s “The Square,” and is also expected to direct a segment of “Sydney Unplugged,” a series of short films designed to serve as a love letter to Australia’s largest city.

In addition to “Helena,” Cook also wrote “Triple Nine,” a crime drama that director John Hillcoat (“Lawless”) is developing for Annapurna Pictures.

Darcy-Smith, who is a member of the famed Aussie collective Blue-Tongue Films, is repped by WME, Magnolia Entertainment, HLA Management and attorney Robert S. Wallerstein. Cook is repped by WME and Anonymous Content.

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