Screen Australia says actor will direct television series based on the story of a German-Australian woman who was wrongly detained as an illegal immigrant

Cate Blanchett is to make her first foray behind the camera, developing and directing a new television series, Stateless, based on the life of Cornelia Rau.

Rau, a German-Australian woman and former Qantas air hostess, attracted attention in 2005 after she escaped the controversial Sydney sect known as Kenja only to be held at the Baxter detention centre in South Australia as a suspected illegal immigrant.

As the national debate around immigration and detention continues to swirl in Australia, Blanchett could not have chosen a more topical subject for her debut.

“Stateless will be Cate Blanchett’s first venture into high-end TV,” said Screen Australia who is funding the script’s development by writer Elise McCredie.

“Inspired by the incredible true story of Cornelia Rau, Stateless is a powerful and timely series about identity, belonging and the extraordinary lengths people will go to find their place in the world,” the funding body said.

It is not yet clear if Blanchett will also act in the series. As a young Nida graduate in the mid-90s, she appeared in the Australian TV dramas Heartland and Bordertown, but has since focused on film and theatre work with the exception of a brief cameo on the legal drama Rake and a voiceover on Family Guy.

She will next appear opposite Richard Roxburgh in The Present at Sydney Theatre Company in August, before she and her husband, theatre director Andrew Upton, relocate their family to the US.

Roxburgh’s own film project, Babyteeth, was among the 23 film and TV projects announced in the same $640,000 Screen Australia development round as Stateless.

Stateless will be a co-production between Matchbox Productions and Dirty Films. Tony Ayres, behind ABC’s current sci-fi drama Glitch, and Liz Watts, who produced Animal Kingdom and The Rover by director David Michôd, are both attached to the project. [Source]

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