Aaron Pedersen, Hugo Weaving, Ryan Kwanten and veteran Jack Thompson are among the ensemble cast in Ivan Sen’s Mystery Road, which is in its first week of filming at Winton in Central Queensland.

As is his habit, Sen is bearing a heavy load on this film: not only is he directing his own script but he is also acting as cinematographer and will be the editor. His usual producer, David Jowsey, is on board.

Arclight is handling international sales and its new staffer, Michael Wrenn, is serving as executive producer and will supervise the release under new local distributor Management of Doubt.

Pederson plays a detective, Jay Swan, who returns home to an outback town to solve the murder of an indigenous teenager. Her body is found out of town under a highway that serves as a major trucking route.

“Ivan Sen is one of Australia’s most gifted filmmakers who, with Mystery Road, has the opportunity to apply his prodigious talent to a broader canvas,” said Jowsey. “Ivan’s screenplay strikes a distinctive balance between its unabashedly genre roots as a murder mystery and its perceptive cultural insights.”

Federal Government film agency Screen Australia, state agency Screen Queensland and public broadcaster ABC TV are among the financiers.

Sen’s body of work includes Toomelah, which was in Un Certain Regard in Cannes in 2011, Yellow Fella, which was in Un Certain Regard in 2005, and Beneath Clouds, which won best first feature at Berlin in 2002.

Early this year he won the prestigious Byron Kennedy Award for “his unique artistic vision and for showing, by his resourceful multidisciplinary filmmaking, that telling stories on screen is in reach of all who have something consequential to say”.

Sen has been developing a film set in China with science fiction elements for some time.