While The Men Are Away, a World War II comedy drama produced by SBS, has begun filming in Sydney with a cast that includes Italian actress Michela De Rossi in the lead role.
The series, created by Lisa Shaunessy, winner of an Australian Academy of Cinema and Television Arts award, is set in rural Australia in the 1940s, and it follows the lives of those who have been excluded from power but who find themselves in positions of authority while the men are away fighting in World War II.
Francesca, played by De Rossi, is an Italian immigrant whose husband leaves her to manage the family farm while he serves in the military. She is accompanied by Women’s Land Army recruits from the city named Gwen (Max McKenna) and Esther (Jana Zvedeniuk), who are both naive young women who have been tasked with transporting the farm’s annual apple crop.
They, along with others like Aboriginal farmhand Kathleen (Phoebe Grainer) and pacifist Robert (Matt Testro), take a whirlwind course in racial dynamics, rural politics, spirituality, sex, and self-improvement.
Director Elissa Down will be at the helm of this LGBTQ revisionist historical dramedy series, with Monica Zanetti also directing one episode.
The eight-part series is created by acclaimed writer Kim Wilson, Alexandra Burke, and Monica Zanetti, and produced by Arcadia production for SBS with major production investment from Screen Australia in association with SBS. Red Arrow Studios International is managing international sales.
Series Showrunner and Co-Creator, Kim Wilson says, “I’m beyond thrilled to have Michela bringing her incredible talent to our lead role. The character of Frankie is fiercely independent, intelligent, charming and complex. Michela delivers all of this, and so much more. She’s the perfect addition to a phenomenal cast.”
SBS’ Commissioning Editor, Julie Eckersley adds, “While the Men Are Away an irreverent, witty and queer celebration of social outsiders, and the revolution of being who you really are.”
While The Men Are Away will premiere later in the year on SBS.