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Mirza to direct Gooneratne in Melbourne set feature - Written in the Stars.

Canadian multi-hyphenate Fawzia Mirza, whose dramedy The Queen of My Dreams had its world premiere at TIFF, will direct an adaptation of Su Dharmapala’s The Wedding Season that Sri Lankan-Australian actress Menik Gooneratne wrote and will star in.

To be launched for sales at Cannes, Written in the Stars takes place against the Sri Lankan diaspora in Melbourne, featuring Gooneratne as a woman who, when modern dating attempts fail, turns to Vedic Astrology and horoscope matching in the hopes of finding her true love.

Gooneratne, whose credits include Neighbours, Lion, and NCIS, is also set to produce alongside Leanne Tonkes of Sense & Centsability, and Jake Casey and Danielle Benedict of The Dazey Phase.

It comes more than five years after she optioned Dharmapala’s novel, about a 32-year-old singleton whose mother arranges a parade of 101 potential grooms for her to coincide with the Sri Lankan wedding season, leading to the discovery that love can come in many disguises.

“When I read the book, I was like, ‘This woman has written my life, in terms of my experience with my mother and being South Asian living in Melbourne, so I really wanted to bring that to life,” she told IF.

“It’s been a passion project of mine and I’m excited we’re taking it to the next step.”

While writing the early drafts, Gooneratne came under the mentorship of writer/director Gurinder Chadha, known for Bend it Beckham and Bride and Prejudice.

She received a further boost in 2021 when the screenplay was chosen as one of ten scripts for the third annual CAPE List, an initiative from the Coalition of Asian Pacifics in Entertainment (CAPE) and storytelling platform The Blacklist designed to draw attention to unproduced scripts Asian and Pacific Islander characters and experiences from writers from Asian and Pacific Islander communities.

According to Tonkes, the selection took the project to a new level, while also helping secure the involvement of Casey and Benedict.

“It was so good to see Menik get the recognition she deserves for writing her first feature script from scratch,” she told IF.

“That was a coup.”

When it came to the director, Gooneratne said bringing Mirza on board ended up being a “pretty simple, easy process”, having reached out to her about a year ago.

“There were certain specifications that I wanted; this was a South Asian story so I really wanted a South Asian director at the helm,” she said.

“I originally looked at getting an Australian director and we tried to find someone that would fit and when that wasn’t the case, Fawzia was certainly on top of my wish list, and luckily agreed to it.”

The creative team hopes to begin production later this year or early in 2025.


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