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  • intouch Magazine

Celebrating Resilience... Just A Farmer

Just A Farmer premieres on 21st March 2024.


Suicide rates among farmers are alarming, with a farmer dying every ten days, and despite feeding millions globally, our farmers lack access to essential medical services, leading to a devastating ripple effect in rural communities. Just A Farmer is a compelling drama that authentically portrays the impact of suicide on a rural Australian family, shedding light on critical mental health issues in farming communities. A personal crusade of a 35-year-old farmer turned filmmaker Leila Sweeney McDougall, Just a Farmer is the result of Leila’s quest to raise awareness of farmer suicide and the devastation it leaves behind. A magnetic entrepreneur and influential advocate for Women in Agriculture, Leila is on a mission to promote, support, and celebrate farming life. Her diverse career spans from fashion designer to rural teacher and now filmmaker. A force for change, Leila also mentors young women in agriculture, passionately championing the next generation of successful female-led businesses to come out of rural Australia.

In 2020, amidst the challenges of COVID-19, Leila, alongside her husband Sean, conceived the idea of Just a Farmer as a cinematic message of support for rural communities. Undeterred by dyslexia, Leila passionately penned the script, showcasing an unwavering commitment to authentic storytelling and representing her communities. Filmed on location at her family’s 1620-hectare farm in Ararat, rural Victoria, with a production budget exceeding $1.7 million, the film promises a poignant exploration of mental health and the crucial contributions of farmers.

Just a Farmer is directed by Simon Lyndon, best known for his AFI winning role in Chopper, and featuring the star of Longmire, Robert Taylor along with Damian Walshe-Howling, Susan Prior and Trevor Jamieson as well as members from McDougall’s local community - including McDougall herself as the lead character. A uniquely Australian story, the plot follows a newly widowed mother left to manage an ailing farm with an alcoholic father-in-law (Taylor) after her husband Alec’s (Joel Jackson) sudden death by suicide. The film is further brought to life with the iconic music of Nick Cave and Paul Kelly, along with original compositions by Bryony Marks.

Just a Farmer will premiere nationwide at Events Cinemas (including here in Newcastle/Kotara) this March. Check online for details.


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