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Teresa Palmer, Sam Neill in the Saddle for Rachel Griffiths’ ‘Ride Like A Girl’

Making her directorial debut, actress Rachel Griffiths has set Teresa Palmer and Sam Neill as the stars of her “Ride Like A Girl.” The film is now in production in Melbourne and Victoria, Australia, and is set for a release in the third quarter of next year.

The sports drama tells the life story of Michelle Payne, the first female jockey to win the Melbourne Cup. Palmer (“Hacksaw Ridge”) stars as Payne and Neill (“Jurassic Park,” “The Piano”) as the father who raised Michelle and her nine brothers and siblings as a single father.

Also in the cast are Sullivan Stapleton, Genevieve Morris and, Brooke Satchwell, Sophia Forrest, Anneliese Apps, Katie Castles, Veronica Thomas, Zara Zoe, Aaron Glenane and Henry Nixon, as the Palmer siblings. The young Michelle Payne is played by Summer North and a young Stevie Payne by Gryffin Morrison.

The U.K.’s Embankment films is handling international sales and will represent the picture next week at the Cannes Film Market. Transmission Films is set as the distributor in Australia and New Zealand.

“Ride Like a Girl” is produced by Richard Keddie, and written by Andrew Knight and Elise McCredie. Screen Australia is the principal investor, in association with Film Victoria, and the Victoria State Government.

“We are celebrating both Michelle’s resilience and athletic brilliance, as well as her sisters’ inspiring achievements in the sport before her. We also explore the profound impact of those men who gave her opportunities and stood by her at critical moments and hope to inspire more men to become champions of change,” said Griffiths in a prepared statement. Griffiths appeared as a performer in “Muriel’s Wedding,” “Saving Mr Banks,” and “Hacksaw Ridge.”

The film is the first backed by Screen Australia’s Gender Matters: Brilliant Stories initiative to go into production.

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