SWIFF’21 Opening Night Film Announcement

Australian Western, THE FURNACE, announced as SWIFF'21 Opening Night Gala film, with filmmakers in attendance.

Acclaimed breakout film from Roderick MacKay, The Furnace tells the story of young Afghan cameleer, Hanif (Ahmed Malik) crossing paths with gold thief Mal (David Wenham), set to the backdrop of the Western Australian desert, trekking from Mount Magnet to Kalgoorlie. See below for film synopsis.

The Opening Night Gala will welcome audiences into our 6th edition of Screenwave International Film Festival. With a program set to feature 100+ sessions with films from over thirty countries (a new record).  Opening Night sets the stage for 16 days of daring drama, one of a kind thrills, delightful charmers, sing-a-long joy rides, jaw-dropping documentary and so much more.

SWIFF will host cast and crew members of The Furnace at the screening, with audience Q&A to follow. Director Roderick MacKay, producer Tim White (The Luminaries, I Am Mother), and actor Baykali Ganambarr (The Nightingale), will be in attendance.

With canapes and drinks on arrival, celebrate the festival atmosphere, dress to impress, compare schedules, and catch up with festival friends old and new in anticipation of what will be SWIFF’21.

Join us to celebrate new and exciting Australian cinema, and the sixth Screenwave International Film Festival – tickets to the Opening Night Gala – The Furnaceare on sale now.

Full festival line-up announced March 5th, with select special events now on sale.

SWIFF'21 Opening Night Gala

The Furnace


WED 14 APR · 6.30PM FOR 7PM · JMT

Venice Film Festival nominee · Best Film · Venice Horizons Award

An unlikely hero’s tale, navigating greed and the search for identity in a new land.

SWIFF is proud to present Roderick MacKay’s powerful feature debut, The Furnace, as the 2021 Opening Night film – together with cast and crew members in attendance.

It’s 1897. Caravaneers, brought to Australia by the British from Persia, Afghanistan, and India, drive camels across the Western Australian desert to trade between colony outposts near Mount Magnet and Kalgoorlie. Having developed close relations with the Indigenous population, whose knowledge of the unforgiving terrain is crucial for their trade routes, young Afghan trader Hanif (Ahmed Malek) forms a close bond with local Indigenous man Woorak (Baykali Ganambarr – The Nightingale, SWIFF ’20), even learning his local language, Badimaya.

Hanif stumbles upon a mysterious bushman, Mal Riley (David Wenham), carrying 400oz gold bars marked with the Crown’s insignia – incredibly valuable, but completely untradeable…unless they are melted and reforged in a furnace. With the promise of an awaiting fortune in exchange for Mal’s safe passage, Hanif is forced to make the ultimate decision that will forever decide his fate.

Described as Western Australia’s answer to the Australian Western, The Furnace captures a culturally significant, untold story in Australia’s colonial history, and provides a powerful means to reflect on long held notions of national identity.

Australia is a country that, to my mind, has only recently begun to willingly peer back into its past, warts and all, to better understand how it has arrived at the present. This is essential to walk with clarity and confidence, as one people, towards a better future” – director, Roderick MacKay.

Enjoy complimentary drinks and canapes on arrival. 

Festival guests include director Roderick MacKay, producer Tim White (The Luminaries, I Am Mother), and Baykali Ganambarr (The Nightingale).

Scroll to Top