Memento Films Boards Justin Kurzel’s ‘True History of the Kelly Gang’ With Russell Crowe (EXCLUSIVE)

Memento Films International has boarded “True History of the Kelly Gang,” a hotly anticipated project to be directed by Justin Kurzel (“Macbeth”), with Russell Crowe, George MacKay, Nicholas Hoult and Essie Davis to star.

Rolling off their success with Luca Guadagnino’s “Call Me by Your Name,” Memento and La Cinéfacture – the production banner launched by Memento founder Emilie Georges – are set to co-finance the picture together with Screen Australia and Film4, and in association with Film Victoria. Memento will handle international sales, beginning at Cannes.

Liz Watts at Porchlight Films and Hal Vogel at Daybreak Pictures are producing the film with Kurzel, whose previous film, “Assassin’s Creed” with Michael Fassbender and Marion Cotillard, grossed more than $240 million worldwide. Paul Ranford is on board to co-produce. Kurzel will helm the film from a script by Shaun Grant (“Berlin Syndrome,” “Snowtown Murders”), which has been reworked. The project is based on Peter Carey’s Booker Prize-winning novel of the same title.

“There has been a lot of blood, sweat and tears to bring ‘True History of the Kelly Gang’ to screen, and I feel privileged to be able to film this audacious and original screenplay,” said Kurzel. “I have been blessed to have an inspiring cast and to work with such exciting and fresh collaborators. I look forward to making the film with the same free spirit Peter Carey has in the writing of this extraordinary book.”

“True History of the Kelly Gang” is a coming-of-age tale charting the rise and fall of the Australian rebel who swore to wreak vengeance and havoc on the British Empire. MacKay will star as the notorious bush ranger Ned Kelly and will depict the colonial badlands of Australia. Nurtured by another notorious bush ranger, Harry Power (Crowe), and fueled by the arrest of his mother, Kelly recruits a wild bunch of warriors to plot a rebellion.

Tanja Meissner, head of sales at Memento, said that “the scope and ambition of the project convinced us immediately, it’s the perfect acquisition – a film which will not indulge in period or genre but be a burst of energy, buzzing with electricity, loud, brash and full of color.”

“True History of the Kelly Gang” will also star Thomasin McKenzie (“The Hobbit”), Sean Keenan (“Strangerland”), Harry Greenwood (“Hacksaw Ridge”) and Earl Cave (“Born to Kill”).

Filming will take place on location in Victoria, Australia, in July. Transmission Films will distribute the film in Australia and New Zealand.

Oscar-winner Crowe (“Gladiator”) is repped by WME; MacKay (“Captain Fantastic”) by Gordon and French and UTA; Hoult (“X-Men”) by 42 and UTA; and Davis (“Game of Thrones”) by United Agents and WME. Justin Kurzel is repped by CAA.

Memento has two films competing at Cannes, Asghar Farhadi’s “Everybody Knows” and Nuri Bilge Ceylan’s “The Wild Pear Tree.”

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