Director’s Cut: Baz Luhrmann Talked An Audience Through His New Series ‘Faraway Downs’ At A Special Screening In NYC

by Freya Drohan

Most directors would probably rather face anything than assess what it was that made their least successful film (commercially, speaking) during a three-decade-long career not live up to the magnitude of their greatest hits. But being forced to pause production on Elvis during the pandemic gave Baz Luhrmann the headspace and urge to revisit Australia, his 2008 epic starring Nicole Kidman and Hugh Jackman. Taking the original 2.5 million feet of footage, enlisting the duo for new digital recordings, reframing the storyline, and incorporating more music and an entirely new focus on the ‘Stolen Generations’ has now resulted in the six-part series, Faraway Downs.

Last night, an intimate screening of the first two installments was hosted by hulu and The Cinema Society at the plush NeueHouse Cinema in NoMad. Luhrmann was in town to answer pressing questions about the project, in a conversation led by Jeremy O’Harris. The playwright and actor—notably the first person Luhrmann ever DM’d on Instagram, he joked—compared the series to the type of hearty and rousing melodramas he grew up watching from his grandma’s couch. This, Luhrmann agreed, was fully intentional, given the delicate subject matter at hands—sprinkled, and made more palatable, with some inimitable Aussie humor, of course. Comparing the rise of streaming platforms and how audiences digest their content had been a major impetus for the revisit too, Luhrmann added, noting how viewers have become used to banquette-style helpings of stories, instead of being fed a meal in one sitting. The Australian auteur also spoke poignantly about what it was like working with the aboriginal community, including the late David Gulpilil, and their reaction to seeing the tale reborn.

Baz Luhrmann, Jeremy O. Harris

Among those in attendance to join Luhrmann and O’Harris for the evening were Huma Abedin, Natasha Bedingfield, Noma Dumezweni, Jemima Kirke, Laila Robins, Cory Michael Smith, Nico Torotorella, Dean Winters, Zac Posen and Harrison Ball, William Abadie, Michael Aronov, Ben Ahlers, Peter Friedman, Orfeh and Andy Karl, Celia Weston, Sam Vartholomeos, Zachary Booth, Emma O’Connor, Ryan Cooper, Sante D’Orazio, Anh Duong, Batsheva Hay, Serena and Sophie Levy, Dale Moss, Mariah Strongin, Valesca Guerrand-Hermes, Jake Davies, Gil Freston, Josh Gray, Revell Carpenter, Sophie Lane Curtis, Peter Davis, Alex Lundqvist, Coco Mitchell, Tara Westwood, Daniel Benedict, and Cinema Society founder Andrew Saffir.

Images: BFA 

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