Baz Luhrmann to debut extended version of film Australia as six-part TV series Faraway Downs

<span>Photograph: Maximum Film/Alamy</span>
Photograph: Maximum Film/Alamy

Baz Luhrmann will debut the expansion of his 2008 film Australia into a six-part TV series at the closing night of the inaugural SXSW Sydney Screen festival this month.

Faraway Downs is an extended version of the Elvis director’s ambitious wartime romance starring Nicole Kidman, Hugh Jackman, David Gulpilil, Brandon Walters and Bryan Brown, which ran for 165 minutes and was a critical and box office flop, receiving a one-star review in this publication.

Luhrmann created Faraway Downs using original footage from Australia’s cutting room floor. He will present the series on the closing night of the festival on 21 October.

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“I was inspired to re-approach my film Australia to create Faraway Downs because of the way episodic storytelling has been reinvigorated by the streaming world,” the film-maker said in a statement.

“With over 2m feet of film from the original piece, my team and I were able to revisit anew the central themes of the work.

“I am honoured to world premiere Faraway Downs in Australia, the place that has inspired me and my work my entire life, and with a partner like SXSW who deeply recognises the intersection of film, television and music with storytelling.”

Faraway Downs will screen on Hulu in the United States, Star+ in Latin America and on Disney+ in all other territories from 26 November.

Kidman will also make an appearance at SXSW Sydney, speaking on 19 October in conversation with her producing partner, Per Saari. The pair will talk about Kidman’s production company Blossom Films, responsible for Big Little Lies, Nine Perfect Strangers and The Undoing.

In the film Australia, Kidman plays an English aristocrat who inherits a vast cattle ranch in the outback and falls for a local drover (Jackman). Speaking to a Sydney radio station in 2009, the Oscar-winning actor said she “squirmed” through the film’s premiere.

“I can’t look at this movie and be proud of what I’ve done,” she said. “I sat there and I looked at Keith and went, ‘am I any good in this movie?’

Related: Peter Bradshaw on Baz Luhrmann's Australia

“But I thought Brandon Walters [who plays an Indigenous child Nullah] and Hugh Jackman were wonderful. It’s just impossible for me to connect to it emotionally at all.”

In his 2008 review for the Guardian, film critic Peter Bradshaw described “a kind of clinical shock” which “caused the upper part of my body to go into a state of paralysis” while watching the film. He called it “slow-moving insincerity and conceit, summoned up in the flatulence of that title: Australia, a country reborn in terms of facetious Hollywood cliches”.

SXSW Sydney marks South by Southwest’s first staging outside Austin, Texas. It runs from 15 to 22 October and features more than 1,000 music gigs, film screenings, conference panels, and gaming and tech events.