Putting Ned Kelly in a Dress: An interview with Justin Kurzel

The director talks about his provocative punk adaptation of Peter Carey's Man Booker Prize-winning novel.

Justin Kurzel is exhausted. He’s just got off the plane from a six-week shoot in Mumbai, where he was filming the upcoming series Shantaram for Apple TV+. In half an hour he’ll premiere his new film, True History of the Kelly Gang to a Melbourne audience.

Kurzel’s film (reviewed here on Screenhub)  completely reimagines the macho image of the Australian folk anti-hero, depicting Kelly as a punky, beardless, dress-wearing youth. Adapted from Peter Carey’s first-person reimagining of the Kelly legend by screenwriter Shaun Grant (Kurzel’s Snowtown; Jasper Jones), and produced by Hal Vogel, Liz Watts, Kurzel and Paul Ranford, the film tells the wildly dramatised story of the outlaw, played by rising British star George MacKay (1917), on his formative journey from innocent boy, to bushranger, fugitive and mass murderer.

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Anthony Frajman
About the Author
Anthony Frajman is a film critic, reviewer and cinephile originally from Melbourne, Australia. His film reviews and articles have appeared in FilmInk, Senses of Cinema and more.