UIP has lodged an appeal against the MA 15+ rating given to Ned Kelly by Australia's Office of Film and Literature Classification.

UIP is hoping the Classification Review Board will decide on Friday to grant it a less restrictive rating.

MA 15+ means that people who are less than 15 years of age are legally restricted from being admitted to screenings unless accompanied by an adult. The original decision was made on the basis of the film's violence and its adult themes, in particular an implied suicide, but the vote was split 5:4.

The film has its world premiere this Saturday in Melbourne and at a press conference today, director Gregor Jordan and key cast spoke of the pressure they felt to be historically accurate in their depiction of the legendary Australian bushranger of the title.

Any young male Australian actor's ambition was to play Ned Kelly, it was suggested, in the same way that their UK counterpart would want to play Hamlet. Kelly has been depicted several times before on film - once with Mick Jagger in the lead role - but this time around the honour went to Heath Ledger.

"There were only two or three people in the world who could play the role and one of them was Heath," said Jordan, whose debut film Two Hands had Ledger in the lead role. "He is the right age and size, he has credibility on the world stage, and he is Australian."

Geoffrey Rush, who plays Kelly's nemesis Superintendent Hare, made a point of highlighting the fragile nature of the Australian industry and how he is attracted to visionaries such as Tim White, chief of Working Title Australia (WTA) and one of the executive producers on the film, and Jan Chapman, whom he worked with on Lantana.

Rush also noted that it was unusual for Australia to make a film of this scale. The Endymion Films production is made in association with WTA and was produced by Nelson Woss and Lynda House from a screenplay by John Michael McDonagh, based on Robert Drew's novel Our Sunshine.

It opens to the public on Thursday of next week.