Kenneth Branagh has been cast as AO Neville - the controversial chief protector of aborigines in Western Australia in the 1930s - in Phillip Noyce's Rabbit-Proof Fence.

The film, which starts shooting on September 18, is about the courageous escape of three Aboriginal girls after they are forcibly removed from their families.

Noyce is also lined to direct Intermedia's The Quiet American, adapted by Christopher Hampton from the novel by Graham Greene. The film will go into production early 2001 in Sydney and Vietnam starring Michael Caine and Brendan Fraser. Sydney Pollack and Bill Horberg are producing.