Beautiful Kate

Directed by Rachel Ward
100 minutes
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In Rachel Ward’s feature debut, Ben Mendelsohn plays a man who returns to the isolated property where he grew up, to see his dying father (Bryan Brown).

After making some outstanding short films, actor Rachel Ward adapted an American book written by Newton Thornburg in 1984 (the only other film based on a Thornburg novel is Ivan Passer’s Cutter’s Way in 1980). Ned (Ben Mendelsohn), a writer, leaves the city and drives with his girlfriend Toni (Maeve Dermody) to the isolated property where Bruce (Bryan Brown), his father, is dying. Living with Bruce is Ned’s younger sister, Sally (Rachel Griffiths). Toni, bored and increasingly hostile, is an unsympathetic hanger-on, as dark secrets from the family’s past are gradually revealed – secrets that involve the young Ned (Scott O’Donnell) and his twin sister, ‘beautiful’ Kate (Sophie Lowe). Beautiful Kate is a riveting family drama that evokes the sort of mood Tennessee Williams once created. Flawlessly acted, with Brown giving an outstanding performance as the dying patriarch, the film is gripping from start to finish though the themes it explores, which include sibling incest, proved too confronting for some. The hothouse atmosphere of the remote homestead is superbly captured in this evocative, sometimes erotic, movie.

From the Collection of the National Film and Sound Archive of Australia

See Rachel Ward's new film Palm Beach
Rachel Ward discusses her long and diverse career in this year's Ian McPherson Memorial Lecture

Special Guest

Rachel Ward
Director, Screenwriter
In her former life as an actor, Rachel Ward was the recipient of several international drama awards and nominations, including two Golden Globe nods. She has directed several short films including Blindman’s Bluff, The Big House and Martha’s New Coat. Her feature film debut Beautiful Kate (also playing at SFF this year) played at SFF and Toronto in 2009.


Mon 10 June
Art Gallery of New South Wales
Past Event Cancel
Sponsored By
Program Strand
David Stratton Selects, Festival Guests
In English
Rachel Ward
Bryan Brown, Leah Churchill-Brown
Ben Mendelsohn, Bryan Brown, Maeve Dermody, Rachel Griffiths, Sophie Lowe, Scott O'Donnell
Rachel Ward
Andrew Commis
Veronika Jenet
Seniors, Women Directors, Gender & Sexuality, Australian Films, Focus on Women, Retrospective
Company Credits
Distributor: Roadshow Films, Rights: Beautiful Kate Productions/Newtown Films
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