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UK Premiere: The Drover's Wife: The Legend of Molly Johnson (15*) + ScreenTalk with director Leah Purcell (live from Australia) and Kerry Fox

Part of Homeland

A still from The Drover's Wife

Leah Purcell adapts her own play of the 19th century short story to create a fierce, feminist Australian revenge western.

Actor Leah Purcell gives a tremendous performance as Molly Johnson, a pregnant woman left to fend for herself in her ranch in the Snowy Mountains of New South Wales. An escaped Indigenous Australian convict (Rob Collins) turns up on her door, triggering a thrilling tale that explores racism and misogyny under colonial rule.

The film has been a labour of love for Purcell, who has also adapted Henry Lawson’s short story into a play and a novel, reclaiming the white-centric narrative of the original from an Indigenous Australian female perspective. Purcell’s fiery screenplay ensures the prejudices of the late 19th century are infused with contemporary resonance – Collins’ character muses that he is guilty of ‘existing while black’. It’s an ambitious, visionary adaptation, and a powerful directorial debut.

Australia 2021 Dir Leah Purcell 109 min

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander audiences are advised that this film may contain the names, images and voices of people who have died. This film contains scenes viewers may find distressing.

Homeland: Films by Australian First Nations directors is supported by the Australian Government as part of the UK/Australia Season 2021-22.

Curated by the Barbican in partnership with Screen Australia. With thanks to Penny Smallacombe and Savannah Glynn-Braun (First Nations Department, Screen Australia).

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