Writer-director Roderick Mackay’s feature debut The Furnace is set to kick off in Wa next month, headlined by a cast that includes Egyptian actor Ahmed Malek, David Wenham and The Nightingale’s Baykali Ganambarr.
Set in the during the 1890s gold rush, the film is described as an “unlikely hero’s tale” navigating greed and identity. It illuminates a history of Australia’s ‘Ghan’ cameleers, predominantly Muslim and Sikh men from India, Afghanistan and Persia, who opened up the desert interior, and formed unique bonds with local Aboriginal people.
Malek, named a Rising Star at the 2018 Toronto International Film Festival, will play Hanif, a young cameleer who forms a partnership with a bushman on the run with Crown gold. The bushman, Mal, will be played by Wenham, a long-time supporter of the project. Together, they must outwit zealous troopers in a race to reset the gold bars at a secret furnace.