Measure for Measure by director Paul Ireland will open this year’s 2019 Byron Bay Film Festival. Ireland’s re-imaging of the William Shakespeare “problem” play Measure for Measure is brought up to date, darkened, and set in Melbourne’s gritty underbelly, where ice, vice and inter-racial rivalries make for a tense urban landscape, with police pay-offs and violence the tactics of first resort.
True to Will’s original script, Weaving’s Duke, as invincible capo, must make himself scarce for a while, the modern twist being the move is provoked by a racist outrage by one of his lieutenant’s ice-addled customers.
But Duke’s not as far away as he wants everyone to believe, and he continues to run the show. Meanwhile, a young Aussie stoner’s encounter with Lebanese Muslim Jaiwara leads to star-crossed love – the catalyst to plenty of subterfuge and “stage business”.
The young lovers are like babes in the wood and the wide-eyed performances of Megan Hajjar and Harrison Gilbertson are riveting, as is that of Fayssal Bazzi as Jaiwara’s lethally protective brother, who audiences may remember from his BBFF outing last year in The Merger.
“Measure for Measure (or M4M) was a natural choice for Opening Night film,” said Festival Director J’aimee Skippon-Volke.
“We support Australian filmmakers and this has everything: established stars and new faces on the rise; glossy cinematography; the glittering Melbourne cityscape in the background; topical interest, and a resolution that is a satisfying balance of joy and pain. Shakespeare would recognize the dichotomies and applaud.”
The 13th Byron Bay International Film Festival runs from October 18 to 27 in Byron Bay, Australia.