Last night in NoMad, acclaimed director Baz Luhrmann hosted an intimate screening of Faraway Downs at the NeueHouse Cinema, hosted by Hulu and The Cinema Society. Faraway Downs reimagines the 2008 film Australia—Luhrmann revisits the material fifteen years later, recutting and reimagining the original film into a six-part limited Hulu series. Set in the late 1930s, the production and costume design by Catherine Martin seemingly transports viewers into a 20th-century version of Australia on the brink of World War II.
“I’m learning that for certain pieces, you can have a theatrical version, and you can also have an episodic version. I like to think a movie is like a meal because it’s consumed in one setting, and episodic streaming is a bit like a banquet—you take your time with many different courses,” Luhrmann told Vogue.
Faraway Downs tells the story of an English aristocrat (Nicole Kidman) and cattle drover (Hugh Jackman) who join forces to protect the million-acre cattle ranch of her late husband. The sweeping adventure romance is explored through the eyes of Nullah (Brandon Walters), a bi-racial Indigenous Australian child caught up in the government’s draconian racial policy now referred to as the “Stolen Generations.” With no new footage shot, everything Luhrmann used to expand the movie by nearly thirty minutes was pulled from the archives. Luhrmann collaborated with up-and-coming, um, aboriginal, and First Nation pop artists to incorporate their music as a form of honoring the aboriginal tradition of storytelling through song.
Guests entered the NeueHouse Cinema, greeting their fellow film industry friends and gathering popcorn and sweets before the screening began. After the final credits rolled, playwright and actor Jeremy O. Harris moderated a conversation with Luhrmann after the screening, delighting attendees with the infectious discussion between the two friends. Afterward, festivities continued with a bevy of celebratory drinks and passed canapés upstairs, allowing partygoers to participate in revelry alongside the director. Attendees included Huma Abedin, Natasha Bedingfield, Noma Dumezweni, Jemima Kirke, Zac Posen & Harrison Ball, Ben Ahlers, Sante D’Orazio, Batsheva Hay, Sophie Lane Curtis, Coco Mitchell, Daniel Benedict, Cinema Society founder Andrew Saffir, and more.
“People say, why’d you do it? I say, well, blame Tom Hanks. When we were about to shoot Elvis, Tom, rather famously, was the first person to get COVID-19, and production was shut down. In that period, it looked like Elvis was never gonna happen, and while locked down, I started thinking about what I would do,” Luhrmann told Vogue. “I decided to re-look at Australia because I shot so much footage. I got over my fear of looking at the footage. I realized that I could lean into the underlying theme of Australia, acknowledging the stolen generation.”