In 1878, bushranger Edward “Ned” Kelly and his gang murdered three police officers: Sergeant Michael Kennedy, Constable Michael Scanlan, and Constable Thomas Lonigan. That event has been told on screen several times over the years and no doubt will be told again in Justin Kurzel’s upcoming The True History of the Kelly Gang. However, a new short film is coming at this historical incident from a point of view not explored before in popular culture: that of the murdered men themselves.
Named for the location of the murders, Stringybark is written and directed by Ben Head and produced by Tim Head, with Ben Thompson on DOP and editing duties. As the short’s crowdfunding pitch states, “The story of The Kelly Gang has been the subject of much literary debate. Indeed, the world’s first ever feature length multi-reel film, released in 1906, was titled The Story of the Kelly Gang. Since that time, Australians have embraced Ned Kelly as a national folk hero; an underdog; champion of the poor; a modern day Robin Hood. But how do we reconcile that image with the apparent cold blooded murder of three policemen tasked with his arrest?
“How? Because with the passage of time, we have learned to gloss over the principle elements of this story – that three policemen, two with wives and families, having been tasked with the arrest of the Kelly Brothers, were ambushed and killed in the Victorian high country in 1878. Why have we glossed over these terrible facts? Possibly because the image of an armoured outlaw with guns blazing is far more romantic than the events for which he was responsible.”
Stringybark is currently crowdfunding production costs. Check out their Pozible campaign here.