Bronte Pictures partners with MS Australia for ‘Take My Hand’ trailer launch

Adam Demos and Radha Mitchell.

Bronte Pictures will work with MS Australia to drive awareness of multiple sclerosis this week, with the health organisation helping launch the trailer for the upcoming romantic drama Take My Hand.

MS is a central theme of John Raftopoulos’ directorial debut, which stars Radha Mitchell as an accomplished Australian woman living in London diagnosed with the chronic neurological condition at the peak of her career. After the sudden death of her husband and losing her job, she returns to Australia with her three sons before a chance reunion with a childhood sweetheart (Adam Demos) changes her life.

Written by Raftopoulos and Dave Paterson, the story is inspired by the real-life journey of Raftopoulos’ wife Claire Jensz, who lives with multiple sclerosis (MS) and serves as the film’s executive producer. It was shot across Byron Bay and London in the first half of last year.

Meg Fraser and Xavier Molyneux

In honour of World MS Day on May 30 and the global ‘Diagnosis’ theme, the film’s trailer will be launched on a dedicated microsite hosted by MS Australia alongside exclusive behind-the-scenes footage, cast and crew interviews, and a message from Jensz. The site will also offer pre-sale tickets for Q&A screenings scheduled for August 2024 across Australia.

MS Australia CEO Rohan Greenland said his organisation recognised the film’s “profound portrayal of MS and its potential to spark meaningful awareness within the community”.

“MS Australia is excited to partner with Claire Jensz, John Raftopoulos, and the creative team behind Take My Hand,” he said.

MS is the most common chronic neurological condition affecting young adults, often diagnosed between ages 20-40, and is three times more prevalent in women than men. The disease occurs when the immune system mistakenly attacks myelin, the fatty material around nerves, leading to varied symptoms.

Jensz hoped the release of the trailer on World MS Day would help MS Australia emphasise the importance of early diagnosis.

“John and I are so proud to be partnering with MS Australia and have our film acknowledged in this way,” she said.

“We set out to create a beautiful love story that everyone can relate to, but also what’s important to me is that audiences see it as an inspirational awareness piece that provides more of an understanding of MS.”

Natalie Bassingthwaighte in ‘Take My Hand’.

Mitchell said the screenplay’s compelling originality and sincerity drew her to the role.

“Playing a romantic lead who, as a result of MS, has both a speech impediment and trouble walking, yet has learned how to live with the disease and is thriving, I found this inspiring,” she said.

“I was lucky to have Claire as a reference point and collaborator and with John directing, he had a clear sense of how to tell the story, which helped me bring authenticity to the character. I’m honoured to be a part of it because it is so personal, and they are so open about it being their story.”

Joining Mitchell and Demos in the cast are Meg Fraser, Neighbours star Xavier Molyneux, and actor/singer Natalie Bassingthwaighte is also featured. Blake Northfield is producing for Bronte Films, working with DOP Wade Muller, production designer Esther Rosenberg, costume designer Tracey Rose Sparke, and hair and make-up designer Billie Weston.

Northfield said profits from the film would go toward MS research across different foundations.

“We wanted to make sure that whoever the money ends up going to, we really want to know those partners and their backgrounds, and what they do for MS in general,” he said.

“Obviously, MS Australia were the first [organisation] where we thought, ‘If we can help them and they can help us, and we can work together to raise awareness for the film and for the disease, then it’s a really good partnership’.”

Take My Hand will be released in Australia on August 29 via Rialto Distribution.