Veteran actor, David Wenham (“Lion,” “The Lord of the Rings”) and rising star Ahmed Malek are set to star in “The Furnace.” The adventure drama is by first time feature director Roderick MacKay, with production by Timothy White (“I Am Mother”) and Tenille Kennedy (“H Is For Happiness”).

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. It illuminates the forgotten history of Australia’s ‘Ghan’ cameleers, predominantly Muslim and Sikh men from India, Afghanistan and Persia, who opened up the country’s desert interior, and formed unique bonds with local Aboriginal people.

Malek, an Egyptian actor who was named one of the Rising Stars at the Toronto Film Festival in 2018 and is represented by APA, will play a camel driver who teams up with a bushman, played by Wenham. Together, they must outwit zealous troopers in a race to reset gold bars at a secret furnace.

Other cast includes Baykali Ganambarr (“The Nightingale”), Trevor Jamieson (“Storm Boy), Erik Thomson (“Storm Boy”), Mahesh Jadu (“Marco Polo”) and Osamah Sami (“Ali’s Wedding”).

Production will begin next month in Mount Magnet and Kalbarri, in one of the most spectacular parts of Western Australia. “The Mid West region is the perfect location for this story. I can’t wait to see how they capture the rugged landscapes and showcase the region’s unique beauty to the world with this film,” Screenwest CEO Willie Rowe said.

Production is through Southern Light Films, Meaning Maker and The Koop production. It will be distributed in Australia and New Zealand by Umbrella Films. Principal production funding comes from Screen Australia, in association with Screenwest and Lotterywest and the Western Australian Regional Film Fund.

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”) and film editor Merlin Eden (“Hounds of Love”).