The Furnace (Roderick Mackay, 2020) is a feature film set in late 1890s gold rush Western Australia, and built around the experiences of a Muslim cameleer, Hanif. This Western genre film illuminates the forgotten history of Australia's 'Ghan' cameleers, who were predominantly Muslim and Sikh men from India, Afghanistan and Persia. These cameleers traversed the nation's vast desert interior, sometimes forming unique bonds with local Aboriginal people.
To escape a harsh existence and return home, the young cameleer, Hanif, partners with a mysterious bushman, Mal, who is on the run after having stolen two Crown-marked gold bars. Together the unlikely pair must outwit a zealous police sergeant and his troopers, and a mysterious, devil-like pursuer and his ruthless tracker, in a race to reach a secret furnace – the one place where they can safely melt down and re-cast the bars to remove the mark of the Crown.
In their journey towards the furnace and their fate, Hanif and Mal are forced to examine their past actions, beliefs, sense of belonging and relationships with Aboriginal people and one another.
The Furnace is a resource that could be used in its modified language version with senior students (Years 9–12). It can be used to explore three areas of the curriculum:
- Media Arts
Running time: 116 mins
ATOM has also produced a study guide for The Furnace. This study guide is available to download here.
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