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COMMISSIONED ARTICLE The Drover’s Wife: The Legend of Molly Johnson By Leah Purcell Deadline for


The Drover’s Wife: The Legend of Molly Johnson

By Leah Purcell

Deadline for pitch: midday on Wednesday 4 May 2022


“I was brought up by storytellers, within a culture where the tradition of storytelling is passed down and histories are heard from the Black experience, not from white-

washed history books.” – Leah Purcell

We would like to invite a written response to THE DROVER’S WIFE: THE LEGEND OF MOLLY JOHNSON (directed by Leah Purcell) from an early career (of any age) UK based film writer / curator / critic / poet. 

Your article will be a reflexive and creative response to the film, or take the form of an opinion piece, incorporating in some way a short review. 

This the first Australian feature film with an Indigenous woman writing, directing and performing the lead role, THE DROVER’S WIFE: THE LEGEND OF MOLLY JOHNSON brings a powerful female gaze to the (traditionally male) Western. Expressing what it means to be black, Purcell casts an eye on feminist, Indigenous and First Nation issues, through a narrative which has at its core a story of love, protection and the survival of family.

We’re looking for fresh perspectives on the film through a Black and Indigenous lens and invite those with this lived experience to explore how they may answer the brief. 

We don’t want to sanctify the work, but need to be mindful that this activity is supporting the release of the film. 


In 1893, heavily pregnant Molly Johnson (Leah Purcell) and her children struggle to survive the harsh Australian landscape after her husband leaves to drove sheep in the high country. One day, she finds escaped Indigenous Australian convict (Rob Collins) wounded on her property and an unlikely bond begins to form between them. Meanwhile, new town lawman Nate Clintoff realises that Molly’s husband is missing and sends his constable to investigate. A thrilling tale that explores racism and misogyny under colonial rule, and a labour of love for Purcell, who has also adapted Henry Lawson’s short story into a play and a novel.

Bringing with it the mythology of generational Aboriginal storytelling, the film is inspired by Purcell’s personal stories and incorporates her own lived experience and those of her ancestors. A proud Goa-Gungarri-Wakka Wakka Murri woman from Queensland, Australia, Purcell is an internationally acclaimed playwright, screenwriter, director, novelist and actor and a cultural icon and activist. Her work stands at the forefront of the Black and Indigenous cultural renaissance and protest movement sweeping Australia and the world.

Now in its 18th year, BIRDS’ EYE VIEW continues to spotlight, celebrate and create impact for films by women and non-binary people while building a community for those who make, show, release and watch them. 

Reclaim the Frame brings a wider perspective of the world by championing cinema by women & non-binary filmmakers. Run by Birds’ Eye View, a charity with a mission to advocate for equity, diversity, and inclusion in film by fostering a community for those who make, show, release and watch them.

Find out more about the project HERE.


Writer Fee: £150 

This is to include a short review as part of a wider feature

Applicants will be UK based film writers / curators / critics and will deliver the finished work to Birds’ Eye View by the deadline below.


Deadline for applications: 4pm on Wednesday 4 May 2022

Successful applicant notified by: Thursday 5 May 2022

Date for the article to be delivered will be no later than 10am Wednesday 11 May 2022

Date for publication no later than Thursday 12 May 2022 

To apply

To apply please send the following to Birds’ Eye View – with the subject heading Birds’ Eye View x The Drover’s Wife: The Legend of Molly Johnson.

Proposal (max 1 A4 page) including what you would like to do, how it engages with the brief, examples of past writing together with the lived experience you bring to your work, how you intend to create and deliver your idea along with a link to your portfolio/cv, website and social media handles.

Notes to Applicants:

Engaging creative and representative individuals is a vital part of the RECLAIM THE FRAME project. We are therefore committed to ensuring the best candidates are appointed for this project, we welcome and encourage applications from individuals from all backgrounds, including under-represented groups.

Reclaim The Frame is funded by the BFI, awarding funds from The National Lottery.


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