US thriller starring Jeremy Irvine and Minka Kelly has several connections with Australia.
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27 Mar 2013 - 4:19 PM  UPDATED 27 Mar 2013 - 4:19 PM

Currently shooting in North Carolina, The World Made Straight has its roots in Australia. The screenplay is by Shane Danielsen, an SBS Film contributor and former artistic director of the Edinburgh International Film Festival.

The cast includes Adelaide Clemens (pictured), the Aussie actress whose credits include The Great Gatsby, Silent Hill: Revelation 3D and TV's Rectify and Parade's End. Sydney-based Michael Wrenn is one of the producers alongside Dreambridge Films' Todd J. Labarowski (The Kids Are All Right and the upcoming The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby, which stars Jessica Chastain, James McAvoy and Isabelle Huppert).

The 1970s-set thriller is based on a 2006 novel by Ron Rash, set in a rural Appalachian community haunted by the legacy of a Civil War massacre. Jeremy Irvine stars as rebellious young guy who struggles to escape the violence that ties him to the past.

The cast includes Noah Wyle, Minka Kelly, Steve Earle and Haley Joel Osment of The Sixth Sense and A.I: Artificial Intelligence fame.

The film marks the feature directing debut of David Burris, who was executive producer on several seasons of Survivor. Myriad Pictures acquired foreign sales rights and began pre-selling the film at the Berlin International Film Festival's European Film Market in February. There's no Australian distribution deal yet. Rash's novel Serena has been adapted into a movie starring Jennifer Lawrence and Bradley Cooper.

Irvine's character Travis is a high school dropout who steals a quantity of marijuana which he sells to a disgraced former teacher-turned-drug dealer. Noah Wyle is Travis' mentor Leonard, a good man who's on the wrong side of the law and decides to do right again, and Kelly is Leonard's girlfriend. Haley Joel plays Travis's best friend and Clemens is a potential love interest.

“I optioned the book and developed the screenplay with David Burris,” Wrenn tells SBS Film from the Carolina set. “I spent formative years in North Carolina and David and I were good friends from then. We made up our mind it would be good to make a film together and were lucky enough to get the option on Ron Rash's novel.”

“The 1970s is not that hard to find in the Appalachias and the dialect and vernacular are still the same. Given we had a first time feature film director, the script and story went a long way in attaching the cast.”

Irvine recently shot Jonathan Teplitzky's The Railway Man, playing a younger version of Eric Lomax (Colin Firth), a former prisoner of war who was forced to work on the Thai/Burma railway and years later decides to confront his Japanese tormentor.

Danielsen worked with Wrenn on Eron Sheean's Errors of the Human Body, which he co-scripted with the director. The saga of a geneticist who goes to work at a German facility and begins to suspect unorthodox activities, it premiered at the Melbourne International Film Festival last year and opens in the US on April 19 in a limited theatrical release and on video-on-demand via IFC Midnight.

Wrenn represents Gary Hamilton's Arclight Films in Australia, runs boutique distributor Greenlight Releasing and is an exec producer or producer on Miro Bilbrough's Being Venice, Ivan Sen's Mystery Road and Kim Mordaunt's The Rocket.