With major Sydney thoroughfare Market St shut down to accomodate the event, Russell Crowe had ample space to work the gathered crowd ahead of the world premiere of his directorial debut, The Water Diviner.


With stunning co-star Olga Kurylenko by his side, Crowe signed autographs and posed for ‘selfies’ ahead of the screening, held in the hallowed 2000-seat auditorium of the iconic State Theatre. It is the second major film event the picture palace has hosted in as many weeks, with Angelina Jolie launching her latest directorial effort Unbroken there on November 17.

photo(6)Following the red carpet formalities, Crowe made his way onstage to introduce his film. In a very moving moment that set the tone for the film’s themes of loss and acceptance and dutiful sense of nationalistic mateship, the Oscar winner placed a cricket bat against the theatre walls (pictured, right) in honour of the late Australian cricketer Philip Hughes, who passed away at the age of 25 after being struck in the head during a state shield game last week.

The Water Diviner is a simply told yet deeply emotional tale of a father (played by Crowe) who travels to Turkey to recover the remains of his three sons, all of whom perished during the Gallipoli offensive. Despite the setting for its premiere and the roster of prestige talent behind the camera (among them, Lord of the Rings’ cinematographer Andrew Lesnie and Shine composer David Hirschfelder), Crowe’s first helming project is a small-scale, intimate story that foregoes a grand scale in favour of a very human story.

The packed audience responded warmly to Crowe’s take on Australian rural life in the early 1900’s, (an impressively staged red-dust storm representing a visual highpoint), shot in and around the township of Burra in the South Australian hinterland, finding a resonant melancholy in Crowe’s depiction of the suffering of those that went to war and those they left behind. Additional footage was shot on location in Mulga, Turkey, as well as Sydney’s Fox Studios (pictured, below; Crowe, on location).

925006-cbc25a40-83fa-11e3-90a9-2f6f5b597dd3In addition to the Ukrainian-born Kurylenko, The Water Diviner boasts a truly international cast, with support turns from Australian actors Jai Courtenay, Dan Wyllie, Steve Bastoni, Isabel Lucas, Damon Herriman and Michael Dorman, as well as a stoic, moving performance from Turkish actor/director, Yilmaz Erdogan. The film was also a reunion for Crowe and actress Jacqueline McKenzie, playing opposite each other for the first time since Geoffrey Wright’s controversial 1992 Australian classic, Romper Stomper.

Dedicated to the thousands who died and were injured during the The Great War, The Water Diviner opens in Australian cinemas on December 26, with an April rollout across the US and global markets to follow.

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