ABC1’s new 10 hour drama, The Straits, produced by Matchbox Pictures’ Penny Chapman and Helen Panckhurst begins shooting today. Scottish actor Brian Cox (The Bourne Supremacy, Troy, Braveheart) joins the troupe of Australian actors assembling in Cairns and Torres Strait Islands.
The Montebello family are Far North Queensland’s Corleones, running drugs into Australia and guns and exotic animals out with ambitious bikies in Australia and Papau New Guinean raskols across the Strait also wanting a piece of the action. Cox plays Patriach Harry Montebello, with actress Rena Owen playing his part Torres Strait Island, part Maori wife, Kitty.
Joining Cox and Owen in the cast will be AFI Nominated Aaron Fa’aoso (East West 101, RAN), Logie winner Firass Dirani (Underbelly, Pitch Black) as well as new Australian talent; Jimi Bani (RAN, The Sapphires) and Suzannah Bayes-Morton (All Saints, The Tumbler), who together play the Montebello’s children.
In a statement, Matchbox Pictures’ Helen Panckhurst said “We have assembled an extraordinary cast, including a large number of talented Torres Strait Islander and Papua New Guinea actors. We are delighted to be collaborating once again with our Torres Strait Islander friends in showcasing this extraordinary part of the world.”
The Straits is based on an idea by Aaron Fa’aoso which has been developed by a team of writers, including: AFI winning Louis Nowra (Cosi, K-19: The Widowmaker, Radiance); Blake Ayshford (Crownies, All Saints); AFI nominated Nick Parsons (Two Twisted, Dead Heart); Kristen Dunphy (East West 101, White Collar Blue); and Jaime Browne (The King, The Secret Life of Us).
A team of three directors will bring the series to life including; multi-award winning director Peter Andrikidis (East West 101, False Witness, Underbelly, Wildside); AFI Award-winning filmmaker Rachel Ward (Beautiful Kate, The Big House); and AFI Award winning Rowan Woods (The Boys, Little Fish).
The Straits is produced with assistance from ABC TV, Screen Queensland, Screen NSW, Screen Australia, Screen Tasmania and international distributor DCD Rights.