Memento Films Intl. (“Call Me By Your Name”) has acquired the Aussie revenge tale “The Drover’s Wife,” the film adaptation of Leah Purcell’s successful Australian stage play. Purcell is on board to adapt, act and direct the film which Oombarra Prods. and Bunya Prods. (“Sweet Country”) will produce.
Memento Films Intl. is handling world sales on the movie and will introduce the project to buyers at the EFM in Berlin with a promo. The company is also unveiling an exclusive first still of the film (pictured).
A searing Western thriller, the play “The Drover’s Wife: The Legend of Molly Johnson” is a reimagining of Henry Lawson’s classic short story “The Drover’s Wife.” The story is set in 1893, and centers on the heavily pregnant Molly Johnson (Purcell) and her children who struggle in isolation to survive the harsh Australian landscape after her husband left to go droving sheep in the high country.
One day, she finds a shackled Aboriginal fugitive named Yakada (Rob Collins) wounded on her property and forms an unlikely bond with him. Molly soon becomes the target of the suspicious lawman Nate Clintoff (Sam Reid) who sends an officer to her home. The encounter between Molly, the officer and Yakada turns deadly and results in a tragic chain of events with Molly becoming a symbol of feminism and anti-racism.
“‘The Drover’s Wife’ story has been with me most of my life, since I was a small child. But to be able to now bring this classic Australian story to the big screen and reimagine it with an Indigenous heart and soul at its core has been an honor and a privilege and one of the great joys and challenges of my life,” said Purcell.
The producers said that the “The Drover’s Wife” short story is one of the most famous pieces of Australian literature, and “Leah Purcell has flipped this settler colonialism story on its head and turned it in to a call to arms by declaring war on Australia’s historical amnesia in respect of the Frontier Wars, misogyny and the myth of egalitarianism.”
Now in post-production, “The Drover’s Wife” shot last fall in New South Wales in Australia. Bain Stewart at Oombarra
and David Jowsey at Bunya are producing with Angela Littlejohn and Greer Simpkin. “The Drover’s Wife” will be distributed in Australia by Roadshow Films.
Memento Films Intl. described the film as “a gritty and epic story that was meant for the cinema, with a deeply moving and extremely modern female character, told by a multi-talented woman.”
Bunya’s best-known credits include Warwick Thornton’s “Sweet Country,” which was also repped by Memento Films Intl. The film won best film at Toronto in the platform section and the Silver Lion in Venice in 2018.
Memento Films Intl. is also in Berlin with the festival opening film, “My Salinger Year,” and the Berlinale Special Gala screening “Persian Lessons.”