Real-life ordeal in Laos to be dramatised

22 November, 2013 by Don Groves

Kay Danes’ account of the ordeal that she and her husband experienced in Laos after being wrongly accused of stealing millions of dollars’ worth of cash and gems from a mining company will be adapted into a feature film.

Robert Lewis Galinsky and actors-turned-neophyte producers Mirko and Amanda Grillini have bought the screen rights to Danes’ life story.


Galinsky is writing the screenplay and will serve as executive producer. The Grillinis will produce together with a seasoned producer who is yet to be hired. The Grillinis brought the project to Galinsky.

In 2000 Kerry and Kay Danes were arrested and accused of stealing gems and cash from a gem mining company in the Laos capital of Vientiane, where they were employed by a security company.

They were detained for 10 months, enduring brutal interrogations, mock executions, torture and the forced separation from their three small children.

In 2001 they were fined and sentenced to seven years in jail. After widespread media reporting of their plight and intense diplomatic efforts by John Howard’s Australian Government, the couple was released.

Kay Danes wrote an account of that period in her 2002 book Standing Ground. She is now a human rights campaigner.

Galinsky says the narrative will start in the mid-1990s, exploring the case of Max Green, a Melbourne tax lawyer who embezzled millions of dollars and laundered some of the money by buying gems. Green was murdered in Cambodia in 1998.

He tells IF the plan is to shoot the film in tropical Queensland, which will substitute for Laos. He hasn’t drawn up a wish-list of directors yet but thinks the project will be suited to a top-ranked action director.