‘Mystery Road: Origin’ included in TIFF’s Primetime program

'Mystery Road: Origin'.

Bunya Productions’ Mystery Road: Origin has joined season five of The Handmaid’s Tale and Lars Von Trier’s The Kingdom Exodus in the Toronto International Film Festival’s Primetime program.

The drama series was one of seven titles to make the line-up, designed to highlight “compelling and thought-provoking” television series from around the world.

Set in 1999, Mystery Road: Origin introduces young Constable Jay Swan, played by Mark Coles Smith, who returns from the city to work in the police station in the fictional town of Jardine, population 1,000.

While in town, Jay is confronted by a series of random and violent robberies perpetrated by a masked gang. He’s also navigating his relationship with his estranged father Jack (Kelton Pell) and meets the woman who will change his life forever, Mary (Tuuli Narkle).

The cast also includes Toby Leonard Moore, Daniel Henshall, Lisa Flanagan, Clarence Ryan, Steve Bisley, Caroline Brazier, Hayley McElhinney, Serene Yunupingu, Leonie Whyman, Salme Geransar, Nina Young, Jayden Popik, and Grace Chow.

The six-part series is directed by Dylan River, who also wrote the episodes alongside Blake Ayshford, Steven McGregor, Kodie Bedford, and Timothy Lee. Mystery Road producers Greer Simpkin and David Jowsey return for the prequel, which launched in Australia on the ABC on July 3.

In a statement made to IF, Simpkin and Jowsey said the selection showed the future of the Australian industry was in good hands.

Mystery Road: Origin was creatively led by a new generation of Australian First Nations storytellers,” they said.

“We are particularly delighted for First Nations director, Dylan River, who will be returning to TIFF with his first foray into long-form drama, having had his short film Nulla Nulla screen at TIFF in 2015. We are also really excited for our young First Nations cast, led by Mark Coles Smith and Tuuli Narkle, as well as DOP Tyson Perkins and composer Vin Goodyer.

“We were inspired to make a prequel because we were really excited by the level of talent in the younger generation of filmmakers and actors in Australia.”

Speaking about this year’s program, TIFF chief programming officer Anita Lee said Primetime spotlighted not only most acclaimed and anticipated series, but also the discoveries that will soon be the most talked about.

“TIFF recognises serialised storytelling as one of the most groundbreaking creative mediums today,” she said.

“Growing increasingly risk-taking, it continues to attract top writers and directors globally.”

Other Australian projects selected for TIFF this year include Robert Connolly’s Blueback, which will have its world premiere in the Special Presentations strand. Frances O’Connor’s Emily, on which Connolly is a producer with Robert Patterson will open the event’s Platform section. Playing in the Discovery section are Jub Clerc’s debut feature Sweet As, also produced by Connolly’s Arenamedia and Benjamin Millepied’s Carmen, produced by Goalpost Pictures.

TIFF runs September 8–18.

The full Premiere program is below.

1899 – Baran bo Odar, Jantje Friese | Germany, USA – World Premiere

Dear Mama – Allen Hughes | USA – World Premiere

The Handmaid’s Tale (Season 5) – Bruce Miller, Elisabeth Moss | USA – World Premiere

High School – Clea DuVall, Laura Kittrell | USA, Canada – World Premiere

The Kingdom Exodus – Lars von Trier | Denmark – North American Premiere

LIDO TV – Lido Pimienta, Sean O’Neill | Canada – World Premiere

Mystery Road: Origin – Dylan River | Australia – International Premiere