Ladies in Black, Bruce Beresford’s first Australian film since Mao’s Last Dancer, is set to begin production in Sydney and the Blue Mountains later this month.
Among the ensemble cast are Julia Ormond (Howard’s End, Mad Men), Angourie Rice (Spider-Man: Homecoming, The Beguiled, Every Day) and Rachael Taylor (Jessica Jones, Red Dog, Transformers).
Described as a “feel-good film” Ladies in Black is set in Sydney in the summer of 1959, and is the story of suburban schoolgirl Lisa (Rice), who takes a summer job at a department store where she works with a group of saleswomen who open her eyes to a world beyond her sheltered existence. Ormond will play Magda Szombatheli, the charming and sophisticated Slovenian émigré who heads the high-fashion floor, while Taylor is in the role of Fay Baines.
Also to star in the film are Alison McGirr (Thirty), Vincent Perez (Queen Margot, Cyrano de Bergerac), Ryan Corr (1%, Holding the Man), Susie Porter (Seven Types of Ambiguity), Shane Jacobson (The Dressmaker) and Noni Hazlehurst (A Place to Call Home).
Ladies in Black is based on Madeleine St John’s 1993 novel, The Women in Black, which Beresford has adapted for screen with producer and long-time collaborator Sue Milliken. Allanah Zitserman is also producing.
In the past Beresford has said he has been “obsessed” with making a film based on the book since being introduced to it by Clive James.
“I was attracted by Madeleine’s wit, her light touch, her deft characterisations and her portrayal of a Sydney I knew so well – the Sydney of the 1950s and ‘60s – a time when the whole of Australia began to change because of the influx of European migrants (most of them escaping a depressed war-ruined Europe), who brought a whole range of talents (and invariably delicious cuisine) that created the successful multi-cultural society of the Australia we live in today.”
Sony Pictures Worldwide Acquisitions’ Stage 6 Films has worldwide distribution rights, and the film has received major production investment from Screen Australia in association with Create NSW, and support from The University of Sydney. Executive producers include Morris Ruskin of The Ruskin Company.