Kriv Stenders Australia Day
Cast: Burgess Abernethy, Will Allen, Elias Anton
Director: Kriv Stenders
Running Time: 98 minutes
Synopsis: Australia Day takes place over a 12 hour period on our most controversial national holiday, interweaving the stories of three Australians from diverse backgrounds – 14-year-old Indigenous girl, April (Madden); 17-year-old IranianAustralian boy, Sami (Anton) and 19-year-old Chinese teen, Lan (Wu).
Whilst the nation celebrates with beach /backyard barbeques and Hottest 100 / pool parties, these three individuals find themselves alone and facing issues of racism, oppression and violence – each terrified for their own life. When their respective paths cross with police officer Sonya (Sebbens); Australian teen Jason (Webber) and failed farmer Terry (Brown), all must make choices and sacrifices. All will find there is a heavy price to pay, but heart and hope will help them to create meaningful change.
A fascinating take on the cultural tension that lurks beneath the surface of our country's modern society, Australia Day has been called 'provocative" (The Daily Telegraph) and 'energetic" (Screendaily), with Variety likening it to 2006's Oscar®-winner, Crash.
Release Date: September 21st, 2017
About The Production
When I first read Stephen Irwin's remarkably crafted screenplay for AUSTRALIA DAY, I was immediately struck by its distinctive dramatic power, authenticity and veracity. Here was a brutally candid and truthful story that did not shy away from depicting an Australia rarely seen on our screens these days. I was excited by its ambition, inspired by its 'Altmanesque" scope and thrilled by its lean, muscular and unrelenting plot. I could see within its pages a vividly compelling story about modern Australian society that asked fundamental questions about who we are as a nation and as a people. To me, Australia Day is a vital story that reveals what really divides and binds us, what is hidden and what is in clear view. It examines what we have become, where we are possibly headed and how we are still perhaps capable of re-determining our future. It is a story that is both confronting and illuminating, harrowing yet ultimately hopeful. In other words, it is a story and an opportunity that as an Australian filmmaker, I could not turn away from.
Australia Day is an incredibly structured and tautly paced suspense story, in which numerous characters and story threads are deftly balanced and eventually fused together. My ambition was to create an elegantly crafted film with powerfully authentic performances for an audience that now demand, expect and enjoy a high level of quality and integrity from the drama they watch.
The film is firmly grounded in a bold, naturalistic style with a fluid camera that is continually moving, and diving into the always-unfolding narrative. Stephen's screenplay holds you in its grip from the very beginning, and like a thriller, you are never sure of how the various threads will combine or what will happen next. The film's visual style reflects this tension and captures the action in a spontaneous and kinetic way by the careful and inventive use of steadicam, handheld and drone coverage, using a range of newly developed compact and flexible digital camera systems. I wanted to create a sweeping mosaic of the day in the life of the real Australia that exists in the hot, sprawling urban landscapes of a modern city like Brisbane. The film has captured this rich detail and is exhilarating in its energy, movement, dramatic rhythm and narrative propulsion.
In terms of casting and performance, I embraced a diverse range of actors from various ethnic backgrounds and disciplines. This broad, mixed approach has brought to the film a distinctive, and emotionally grounded sense of honesty and authenticity. By using both established 'name" actors, up-and-coming unknowns, and in some cases first timers, I was able to combine their range of talents, skills and energies to create a unique ensemble of characters that reflect the various aspects of the story. This combination brings out the best in each cast member as they all learn from and influence each other, embracing their differences to infuse their performances with a powerful sense of reality and truth.
The casting of the indigenous roles of April and Constable Sonya Lambert was especially important as it is vital that we depicted these key, leading characters in a totally realistic, current, and credible way. I want to show audiences just how richly intertwined, diverse and integral indigenous Australians are in our society. And with the role of Sonya Lambert especially, challenge audience's pre-conceptions about the kinds of faces, social backgrounds, personalities and characters they normally associate indigenous Australians with. In fact, I see Australia Day as one huge, vivid and vital reflection of the complex and contradictory Australia that we all now live in. Ultimately I see Australia Day following in the tradition and footsteps of other great, recent Australian urban dramas such as Lantana, The Boys, Head On, Romper Stomper, Snowtown and Animal Kingdom. Like Australia Day, these are all bold, confronting, relevant and uncompromising dramas that challenge and question who and what we are, and that ultimately connected and resonated deeply with Australian audiences and continue to be an integral part of our national identity.
-Kriv Stenders, Director
Lan's Story: Bryan Brown As Terry Friedman
Bryan Brown became not only an Australian star but also an international name with the successes of such landmark productions as Breaker Morant and the television series A Town Like Alice.
A stream of well known Australian hits and Hollywood productions followed: The Thorn Birds, Gorillas in the Mist, FX, Newsfront, The Shiralee, Cocktail, Blood Oath, Risk, Two Hands, On The Beach and Along Came Polly.
Bryan's passion for storytelling behind the camera emerged with his film and television production company, New Town Films. Projects include Dead Heart, two series of Twisted Tales, Dirty Deeds, Cactus and Beautiful Kate, Other recent credits include Foxtel's acclaimed Deadline Gallipoli, marking the centenary of the seminal Anzac campaign, the television series Better Man and Old School, opposite Sam Neill, the feature film Gods of Egypt, and a sell-out season of Travelling North for Sydney Theatre Company.
Bryan has worked with Australia Day's Kriv Stenders several times, including the follow-up to the much-loved Red Dog, 2016's Red Dog True Blue and the black comedy Kill Me Three Times.
An Australian acting legend, in 2017 Bryan Brown again teamed up with daughter Matilda, the creator and co-star for season two of Let's Talk About, a Foxtel original and short form series.
Terry Friedman (65)
Terry is a fourth-generation cattle farmer. His property north-west of Dalby in Queensland has been in his family for 120 years. But on Terry's watch, it is being resumed by the bank. Terry is devastated. He has put everything into the property, and it's cost him dearly. His devotion to it – and his constant anger at what its suffered, from poor prices to constant drought – cost him his marriage and alienated him from his sons. Terry's bitterness is as ice-cold as the beaten dust is hot; the only time he's ever been away from the farm was to serve his country in Vietnam. He feels acutely betrayed by his government, who seem to have done nothing to help farmers like him survive – instead pandering to the whims of banks and foreign meat buyers. In particular, he hates the current Federal Agriculture Minister Patricia Kendall, who seems to have gone out of her way to suck up to the Chinese, and broker a new deal to directly sell Australian beef (bought at rock bottom prices) to the Chinese market. It is the latter – a Chinese owned consortium – which rejected his several hundred head of cattle, which were returned sick and emaciated to Terry's farm. Terry was forced to destroy them – himself – soon before the bank repossessed the property.
Bryan on Australian stories:
I just love telling Australian stories. Can you imagine being in a country where you never saw a film about yourself – about who you were? That would be horrible.
Thirty-five to forty years ago, I was lucky enough to be at the resurgence of the Australian film industry and I find it strange to think that forty years later I'm still doing Australian stories – thank god. It's very important for us to tell our stories and the interesting thing there I guess, forty years ago we wouldn't have been telling Australia Day because Australian society wouldn't have been as multicultural as it is today.
Bryan on what attracted him to the role:
About thirty-eight years ago I played a role in the film The Odd Angry Shot about a fellow who went to Vietnam and recently I showed that again in Hobart to Vietnam Vets and I was reminded about what a difficult was that was for those soldiers. They not only had to deal with the war but they had to deal with how people saw the war. And when I read this script it made me think about those blokes again and the idea of playing one became attractive to me. The script is a very interesting script with a number of different stories going on at the one time. And it's very multicultural and amongst this multicultural group is this old Anglo and I thought why not?
Jenny Wu as Lan
A graduate of the National Institute of Dramatic Art (NIDA), Jenny Wu's credits span film, television and theatre.
Alongside Australia Day, Jenny's roles for Foxtel include the political thriller Secret City and the highly anticipated second season of Top Of The Lake. In 2017, Jenny is appearing on stage in Sydney Theatre Company's Chimerica.
In 2016, she starred in her first US action movie, Lady Bloodfight, playing the antagonist in an all-female martial arts tournament, directed by Chris Nahon. Other credits include a film noir short, Inside, filmed near Berlin, and the upcoming reality TV travel show, Deep Breathing In Australia, with Chinese mega-star Liu Xiao Qing.
Fluent in English, Mandarin, and Shanghainese, Jenny was an assistant director and translator on the 2015 Chinese blockbuster, Dragon Blade, working with Jackie Chan, John Cusack and Adrien Brody and which took her from Beijing to the Gobi Desert.
In 2013, she was selected out of 70,000 candidates as a finalist for the "Transformers 4: Age of Extinction – Search for Actors" competition held in Beijing, organised by Paramount Studios.
In 2014, Jenny received the Art Start Grant from the Australia Council for the Arts.
Lan arrived in Brisbane thinking she was going to undertake Business and English study at university. She was so excited! Her family from Changzhou were so proud, and had worked hard to fly her here. But upon arrival, the man who'd arranged her student visa (David Tso) told her there were problems. She needed a new visa. She needed to work. Lan quickly found herself among a half dozen other girls working in an illegal brothel. They are threatened physically and psychologically by David Tso, his enforcer Zhou Chong, and the brothel Madam: if they try to report to the police, they'll be imprisoned because their visas are invalid. Yet Lan knows she cannot live a life of servitude, being forced to have sex with Australian (white and Asian) men. When an opportunity presents itself, she flees the brothel without a plan – but is determined to find a way to free the other girls.
Jenny on the female roles in Australia Day:
'The wonderful thing about this movie is that you have these wonderful female characters carrying the story – very strong women who are fighting for what they believe in and they're almost behaving in a masculine way and it's not a bad thing, it's a great thing because they are fighting against the odds."
Jenny on Lan and Terry's story:
In a way Terry and Lan's relationship represents Australia at a turning point – an established Australia meets a younger, new Australia coming together.
April's Story: Shari Sebbens As Senior Constable Sonya Mackenzie
Shari is a proud Bardi, Jabirr-Jabirr woman and was born and raised in Darwin, Australia. At 19 she was one of 10 young artists chosen for SPARK, the Australia Council for the Arts' first theatre mentorship program. In 2006 she was accepted into the Western Australian Academy of Performing Arts (WAAPA) where she completed the certificate 3 course in Aboriginal Theatre. Later that year she successfully auditioned for the National Institute of Dramatic Art (NIDA), graduating in 2009.
Shari is a proud and passionate advocated of Indigenous theatre, particularly the development of new and contemporary works. Through her training and opportunities at NIDA and exposure to Sydney's arts scene she has developed her love for Shakespeare, film and television while maintaining her connection with home. In 2011 Shari was cast in her breakthrough role as Kay in the hit film The Sapphires. Based on the stage play of the same name, The Sapphires had its world premiere at the 2012 Cannes International Film Festival and went on to screen at both the Toronto and Dubai International Film Festivals.
Shari's theatre credits include the world premiere of La Boite/Griffin Theatre's production of Rick Viede's A Hoax, The Belvoir Street productions of Radiance directed by Leah Purcell and Back To The Dojo, and Griffin Theatre's acclaimed The Bleeding Tree, which will have a remount at Sydney Theatre Company in 2017. Also this year, Shari will again perform at STC in Black Is The New White, and then at Queensland Theatre Company in An Octoroon.
Shari was the 2012 recipient of the TV Week Logie's Graham Kennedy Award for Outstanding New Talent. Her television roles include Redfern Now, The Gods Of Wheat Street and 8MMM Aboriginal Radio. Her credits also include the web series Soul Mates and the films The Darkside and Teenage Kicks.
Senior Constable MacKenzie (32)
Sonya's father is Aboriginal, but her mother is white. Her mother died when she was young, and she was raised by her father in Brisbane's southern suburbs. Her father encouraged her strongly to study hard, and she was accepted into tertiary education. She completed a business degree before joining the police service nine years ago. Sonya is a determined young woman who has worked hard to advance her career in what remains a very male-dominated police force. Her reward is that now she is on the cusp of becoming a sergeant. She and her partner, Constable Peter Buchanan (26), are general duties officers based in Brisbane Southern suburbs: a melting pot of lower-working class whites, indigenous people, Maoris, islanders, and Asians from China and Vietnam. She has a strong desire to gain detective qualifications, and move to a specialist branch like major crimes – so, she has worked hard in her general duties role to become a respected, reliable, trusted officer.
Several times in the last eighteen months, Sonya and her partner/s have been called to the Tucker residence, always concerning complaints about Gordon Tucker (drunk, loud, abusing his neighbours). It didn't take Sonya long to realise that the daughters in his care (Kaytee and April) might be the victims of emotional or even physical abuse. She alerted Child Services on three occasions, but the girls were never removed from his care.
Shari on the challenges of Australia Day:
Yesterday [during filming in August 2016] for me was one of the hardest days, hearing the crowd at the crash scene, and looking over and seeing a group of my mob, black fellas protesting a young child's death. This is all happening as well three weeks after the Don Dale (Don Dale Youth Detention Centre in Australia's Northern Territory) coverage on Four Corners so I'm keenly aware of how our children slip through the cracks of the system in this country and how trans-generational trauma affects my people.
Shari on summing up Australia Day:
I feel like it's the undercurrent of Australia's racism that we don't see, that we don't like to acknowledge, especially on beautiful, sunny, beachy days like Australia Day.
Shari on why audiences should see Australia Day:
See Australia Day so you can be part of the conversation and encourage yourself to question your own assumptions.
Shari on working with Kriv:
I think he's a real actor's director, which is nice – it's pretty awesome watching him wrangle the beast, which is this film.
Miah Madden is April Tucker
Miah Madden is of Gadigal and Bundjalung heritage. Her father (deceased) was a Gadigal man and her mother is an Anglo-Saxon Australian. Fourteen-year-old Miah lives in Sydney with her mother and sister.
In 2011 Miah appeared alongside her Australia Day co-star, Shari Sebbens, in The Sapphires, as the young Julie, with Jessica Mauboy playing the adult role. Miah also recorded two a cappella songs for the hit film's soundtrack. In 2013 she again worked with Jessica, appearing in the video for the song Never Be The Same from the album Beautiful.
Miah's television credits include The Gods of Wheat Street, Redfern Now, The Moodys, Hyde & Seek and the animated children's series Little J and Big Cuz. As well as acting and singing, Miah plays guitar and the flute, takes lessons in ballet, tap, jazz and contemporary dance and is also part of the elite show group performance team. A keen athlete and former gymnast, Miah also loves to surf.
April Tucker (14)
April is the Indigenous girl that Sonya will be seeking. She and her older sister Kaytee (15) were in the care of their white father Gordon Tucker. Gordon Tucker was long-term unemployed, a heavy drinker, and took his frustrations out on the two girls he fought his wife Heather for custody of (mostly out of spite). Gordon's frustrations built to the point where he took them out on the daughters in his care, and he abused them regularly, verbally, then physically. And recently, it got sexual. It was when April found her father feeling Kaytee up that she picked up a hammer and smashed him in the head. Panic set in; both girls knew what happens to Aboriginal girls with no parents who get caught in the corrective services system. They were determined to find their mother, Heather, and stole a neighbour's car. But they didn't get far...
Miah on April:
I really like her determination to find her mother and also her bravery. If I was in April's position I wouldn't have done half the stuff that she has done and I find it really interesting the way that she handles it. She's a really interesting character.
Miah on Australia Day:
I personally haven't seen a film that's anything like this movie's going to be about. It's also very diverse with the people that are in it. It's very different to what has been shown before. It's very interesting and important.
Matthew Le Nevez is Detective Sergeant Mitchell Collyer
Matthew graduated from the National Institute of Dramatic Art (NIDA) in 1999 and made his feature film debut as a drug fuelled rock star in Alex Proyas' Garage Days. This was followed with roles in Craig Monahan's Peaches alongside Jacqueline McKenzie and Hugo Weaving, and in Jonathan Ogilvie's The Tenderhook opposite Rose Byrne.
Alongside Australia Day, Matthew has also appeared for Foxtel in the 2016 ratings smash hit, The Kettering Incident.
His numerous television credits include his breakthrough role of Bullet Sheather in the mini-series Marking Time, for which he won the Australian Film Institute (AFI) Award for Best Actor in a Supporting Role in 2004. This was followed by his portrayal of killer Matthew Wales in The Society Murders, which won him the TV WEEK Silver Logie for Most Outstanding Actor in 2007.
Having forged a diverse and rewarding career in film and television, it was Matthew's portrayal of Dr. Patrick Reid opposite Asher Keddie in the popular series Offspring, which garnered him national attention with television audiences and for which he received Logie nominations for Most Popular Actor in 2013 and 2014.
Additional television credits include the critically acclaimed Love My Way, Howzat! Kerry Packer's War, the title role of Damien Parer in the telemovie Parer's War, and the hugely popular Love Child. In 2016 Matthew also starred as legendary Australian racing car driver Peter Brock the mini-series Brock.
Detective Sergeant Mitchell Collyer (40):
The Homicide detective tasked with investigating the murder of Gordon Tucker. He is Terry Friedman's son. Mitchell is a very decent man, and a self-reliant one. His father, Terry, was not a particularly good role model. Terry expected Mitchell to grow up to remain on the family cattle property past Dalby, but Mitchell has always had designs on a career in justice. His father took out his problems (issues brought back from the Vietnam war; the enormously challenging role of working a property; isolation and lack of support network) out on his wife and son. Mitchell left the property to go to university, and never came back. His mother left Terry some eight years later. She died of ill health three years ago, and Mitchell blames his father Terry for sucking the life from her. However, Mitchell keeps these personal problems to himself. He has become a very well respected Homicide detective; his working partner is Ansha Bhattathiri.
Matt on summing up Australia Day:
'When I've explained this film to a few family and friends, it's really tough because it does seem like a quite a dark, quite a dramatic, quite a heavy film but when you read it – and I'm sure when people watch it – it's actually got an incredible message and there's so much heart and so much love in this story I think it's a really wonderful story and I'm really proud of Hoodlum and Foxtel to get behind it. I think it's a little magical hour and a half.'
Matt on diversity in Australian films:
'A film like this really represents the multicultural in a way that we need to represent it in our media. There is not enough ethnicity in our media and I just think it's a fantastic opportunity and a fantastic film to try and pose a few questions to people and try and get that discussion going – that we can all get together and realise that we do have a common good. I think that Australians are a really positive people, they're very loving people and the majority of us are great but there is a very loud voice underneath that is very angry and it's important that we shed some light on that note in films like this like proper art should and I think it does."
Matt on Australia Day:
I really believe in its message. I've struggled with Australia Day, the day for many years, and I know a lot of people do and I know it's still a really contentious issue so for a film to be able to represent that in a way that challenges the viewer (or reader) and then also coming out the other side I think that it will make people in the cinema feel closer to each other and I think it's a really important film to get made.
Matt on Brisbane as a location:
I think Brisbane's a really interesting city to film in. Brisbane has a really interesting history. Where I'm staying right now is in West End and where I'm staying now is on Boundary Street and do you know why it's called Boundary Street? That was where Aboriginals could come to the city edge. That's heartbreaking.
Sami's Story Elias Anton is Sami Ghaznavi
Elias Anton is currently best known for his breakout performance as Danny opposite Rachel Griffiths and Matt Nable in the television adaption of Christos Tsioklas' lauded novel, Barracuda. His acclaimed portrayal was recognised at the 2017 TV Week Logies with the Graham Kennedy Award For Most Outstanding Newcomer. Elias undertook the role while in his final year at school in Melbourne and throughout his schooling he trained at NIDA's Young Actors Studio.
Elias' other on screen credits include roles in the short films, Eli, Never Love A Vampire, and Head Case.
Sami Ghaznavi (17)
Sami is the youngest boy of the Ghaznavi family, who moved to Australia nearly ten years ago from Iran. Sami is slight, studious, and almost effeminately good-looking – a ready target for white boys wanting to assert themselves. He was enrolled last year at Chloe's school, and the two began a flirtation at end-of-school parties late last year. Sami knows his family – especially his mother Oliya and older brother Yaghoub (who he admires and envies) would never approve of him having a white girlfriend. But Sami isn't really interested in a girlfriend – he just likes Chloe, and finds her attractive. Last night, he stole some party drugs from Yaghoub's stash, texted Chloe, and had a really brilliant night.
Elias on what attracted him to the role of Sami:
I love his vulnerability, his emotions, when I read the script … I felt like could relate to this because I was victimised at school for being the only Lebanese kid growing up in a Catholic school in my area. I found a relationship there and it really drew me to the character … not physically but emotionally, it's [Sami's story] similar to mine and it worked out really well, I'm really glad to be a part of this project and to play this role, I'm really thrilled.
Elias on the importance of films like Australia Day:
Racism is a very big thing in Australia – we're one of the most multi-cultural countries in the world – although it can be quite hidden and quite subtle, racism is a very big problem and it's not just Australians targeting ethnics, even ethnics are very similar … people are going to walk out of the movie theatre, or watching it on Foxtel and realise that we're not as innocent as we make ourselves out to be so I definitely think it's a movie that needs to be seen.
Phoenix Raei Is Yaghoub Ghaznavi
Phoenix grew up in Perth where a love of soccer saw him represent Western Australia in the under 19s mens soccer team. While undertaking a law degree, Phoenix discovered his passion for acting and exploring characters and he was soon cast in numerous short films, independent features and music videos. After moving to Melbourne to study acting full time, Phoenix successfully auditioned as Australia Day's Yaghoub.
Phoenix has also written and directed 7 Storey's Down, which will be released in late 2017.
Yaghoub Ghaznavi (24)
Yaghoub is Sami's older brother. He is a strong young man with strong views. He believes strongly in scratch: that if you want something, you have to be prepared to fight to get it. He has little genuine love for this new country. He's experienced prejudice here from day one, and knows his taxi-driving father has, too. So, Yaghoub has no issue with breaking this country's rules: he makes most of his cash from dealing illegal drugs and growth hormones. Yaghoub is powerfully built, and takes the latter himself. He hangs out with other Persian boys, and enjoy their own strange subculture that both celebrates their heritage while cherry-picking from Western culture (music, films, etc.). He is not religious; he believes the religion his father Kharim lives by is a crutch for weakness – Yaghoub is disappointed that his father allows himself to drive cabs and be a virtual slave to white folk. Yaghoub vows never to be that way. However, Yaghoub does respect (and, to be honest, fears!) his matriarchal mother Oliya.
Phoenix on what attracted him to the role:
I read it and it was 2:00am when I finished reading it [the script] and I had to call my agent – she was reading it as well – and we had the same sort of mindset about it and I said, 'I need this – I want this character – I know him – I know him well."
Phoenix on why audiences see Australia Day:
It's just a great piece of work. The writing is brilliant, Kriv Stenders is an amazing director, the actors are giving it everything they have and it's a story that is relevant politically. People are at a point where they want to talk about these things and this movie has come at the right time for that and I think it gives hope at the end and it asks a lot of important questions and it doesn't really answer them and that's not the point – it ask very important questions for the audience to think about.
Phoenix on Australia Day, January 26:
For a lot of people it's a sad day and I understand that and I can empathise with that. For a lot of people it's a celebration of a culture. I can't say I celebrate the idea of the day on which it's being celebrated but I do celebrate being an Australian. I celebrate that every day. I don't need a day to say this. I celebrate that all the time but the idea of that particular day doesn't sit well with me.
Phoenix on the conflict in the film:
They both understand this world in the mode of survival and getting to a place on your own whatever it takes and what ever it takes includes violence. It's not that Yaghoub wants to be violent, it's not a choice, it's a reaction. They're [the Pattersons and the Ghaznavis] almost a reflection of each other … regardless of where you're from we all have the same tendencies, we all have the same sort of drives, meaning skin, colour and all that becomes redundant, it's so irrelevant, it's so silly so I guess if you look at it that way I guess you've learned something from the script and the film.
Daniel Webber Is Jason Patterson
Daniel Webber was born and raised in Gosford, New South Wales. His breakthrough role came in his late teens when he was cast in Bob Baker's Doctor Who spin-off series K9.
His extensive body of work includes the Marvel series, The Punisher, due for release in 2017, and J.J.Abrahm's television mini series 11.22.63, playing the role of Lee Harvey Oswald opposite James Franco, Chris Cooper and Lucy Fry and which had a special screening at The Sundance Film Festival.
Film credits include the upcoming crime thriller Thumper, Sleeping Beauty, alongside Emily Browning and Julia Leigh, which premiered at the 2011 Cannes Film Festival, and the coming of age drama Galore set in the days leading up to the 2003 Canberra bush fires. Other feature roles include the lead in the mystery thriller Deceit, The Combination inspired by Sydney's 2005 race riots and Teenage Kicks, with Australia Day co-star Shari Sebbens.
Daniel's TV work includes All Saints and an extended guest role on Home & Away.
Jason Patterson (18)
Jason is a handsome, strongly built young man about to start his last year of secondary school. A natural sportsman and reluctant student, he is well loved by his family. Jason is, despite his sturdy appearance, quite a sensitive young man – a trait that he has seen fit to disguise, especially in front of his older brother Dean (who Jason adores and admires). Jason and Dean live at home with their parents and younger sister Chloe. Their father (electrician Greg) is a FiFo electrician often away at a western Queensland mine. The family lives in a working-class suburb where Greg himself grew up, but the recent influx of foreigners nettles Dean greatly. Though he has a build for rugby, Jason is a skilled soccer player. He and his friend Tony Agosti are on the local Under 18 soccer team. It is through the club that Jason knows of Sami Ghaznavi.
Daniel on what he hopes audiences take away from this film:
What's so nice about this film is that it comes to a point of hope in that we can all – hopefully – get on, irrespective of our race, nation, beliefs whatever it is … we come away seeing this huge journey and watching these great storylines interweave ... and come together to hopefully this one point of where we can all do better – there is a way we can make it work.
Sean Keenan is Dean Patterson
Sean Keenan made his small screen debut at 13 in Lockie Leonard playing the title role in the 26-part children's series based on Tim Winton's novels. He then starred in the award-winning Australian drama series Puberty Blues (Season 1 & 2) opposite Dan Wyllie and Claudia Karvan.
Other television credits include the miniseries Cloud Street as Ted Pickles, Dance Academy as Jamie Oakes, as Pablo in Hunters, as Charlie in Glitch and in Newton's Law alongside Claudia Karvan and Toby Schmitz.
Sean's film roles include Strangerland with Nicole Kidman and Hugo Weaving, Drift with Sam Worthington and Xavier Samuel, the lead in This The Real World and most recently as Tobias Zming in Universal Pictures' Hard Target.
In 2017 Sean is again working with Australia Day's Kriv Stenders and Stephen M Irwin on the reimagining of the Australian classic Wake In Flight.
Dean Patterson (24)
Dean is Jason's older brother. He is an electrician like his father. Naturally smart, good-looking, and athletic, things have fallen Dean's way quite well. Dean has inherited Greg's outlook on life, including his propensity for racist views – that Australia is a country of whites for whites. The changes in the racial make-up of Dean's neighbourhood over the last ten years have only served to heighten those strong feelings about new Australians.
Dean hangs out with like-minded friends who he has met through his work. Their outlook is, in other respects, fairly liberal – they are promiscuous, enjoy recreational drugs, and are generally fun-loving. They enjoy physical exertions like gym, football and, of course, sex. Dean is enormously protective of his way of life, and of his family – especially his little sister Chloe.
Sean on his character Dean:
I think I found it quite interesting to see his point of view. It's so easy to just paint him as a black and white bad guy, racist, and he has definitely had some of that ingrained in him from his father, and where he's grown up, and the people he hangs out with but at the same time, from his point of view what he's doing is right and he sees a failure in the system with the police to deal with issues like this. I think it's a very conflicted thing where you've got someone who is essentially doing something that's endangering everyone around him and it escalates and gets out of hand but it was interesting to see where he was coming from to justify that and I think that's kind of intriguing in a way.
Sean on why audiences should see Australia Day:
It's a very entertaining film. The script is completely amazing and it's taking a look at Australian culture that we sometimes shy away from and we feel very comfortable shying away from and I think it's important for those kind of stories to be brought out to the public, especially for young people growing up in Australia and just to see the overall lesson how pointless it is, it's just completely pointless to judge someone on based on any factor that they can't control.
It tackles such dark subject matter but you don't come out feeling that the world is pointless, you come out with hope. And I think that's the main thing – you want people to come out feeling like, yes this stuff happens but at the end of the day there is hope – it's okay.
Isabelle Cornish is Chloe Patterson
Isabelle is well known for her portrayal of troubled teenager Vicki in the critically acclaimed television drama Puberty Blues, in which she appeared alongside her Australia Day co-star, Sean Keenan.
For television, Isabelle has also had guest roles in Rescue Special Ops, the popular teenage series Dance Academy and an extended guest role in Home & Away. In 2014 she was cast in the ABC US pilot Sea Of Fire.
Chloe Patterson (16)
Chloe is our story's unlikely Juliet. She has grown up basking in her father's adoration, but lately has awakened socially and sexually. She liked the looks of a boy at her school, Sami Ghaznavi, even though he is unspoken taboo – he's not white. Chloe would never dream of taking him on as a boyfriend, but she did find him attractive... so she asked Sami to score some recreational drugs. He did, and they had a fun night together. It was never love. It was just sex. Fun, harmless sex... or so they thought. Chloe also loves her brothers, and is (if she were to admit it) just a little afraid of Dean. He is fiercely protective of her, and she'd hate for that fierceness to be directed at her.
Isabelle on the importance of stories like Australia Day:
They're provocative stories that give an insight into these Australian families and really question what it means to be Australian and ask the question: what is Australia Day? I think a lot of the time we haven't known what Australia Day is and a lot of people still question it and I think this is a really great way to bring that up.
Isabelle on why audiences should see Australia Day:
I think it's really important to see the diversity of our country and show things that actually go on and to make people question what it means to be Australian and to … make it relatable to Australian families.
Isabelle on working with her young castmates:
It's really, really nice to be working with such an awesome group of actors and I've worked with Sean together in the past with Puberty Blues but it's really nice. We're all growing up together and we all get to work together and experiment with different things and it bring a real sense of joy and passion, which I really like. We're all so passionate about it and it's getting down to the nitty gritty and it's challenging for us and it's nice to share that with such an amazing group of actors.
Isabelle on what attracted her to the role of Chloe:
I've wanted to dive into experimenting with those teenage years, showing what it's like to be a teenager growing up in Australia and showing the things that young women go through.
Kriv Stenders – director
Kriv Stenders is one of Australia's most renown and respected film directors with numerous critically acclaimed and award winning shorts, documentaries, music videos, television commercials and feature films to his credit. His feature films include Blacktown, The Illustrated, Family Doctor, Boxing Day, and Lucky Country. His fifth feature, Red Dog, released by Roadshow in August 2011, has now earned over $22 million at the box office, making it the ninth highest grossing Australian film of all time. It has also become the highest selling Australian DVD of all time. Red Dog won both Best Director and Best Film at the 2011 IF Awards and Best Film at the inaugural 2012 ACCTA Awards. Kriv also directed Red Dog's follow-up Red Dog: True Blue, starring Australia Day's Bryan Brown, which was released at the end of 2016.
In 2015 Kriv again worked with Bryan Brown on Kill Me Three Times, which also stars Simon Pegg, Alice Braga, Teresa Palmer, Sullivan Stapleton. That same year he also directed The Principal, a four-part television drama for SBS, starring Alex Dimitriades and Aden Young, plus the feature-length documentary, Why Anzac with Sam Neill.
Kriv is currently filming Wake In Fright, Stephen M Irwin's contemporary re-imagining of the Australian classic and starring Australia Day's Sean Keenan.
Kriv on what attracted him to the project:
Really the main ingredient was the script – Steve Irwin's script was extraordinary when I read it the first time I was amazed by how beautifully structured it was, how dense and deep it was also but ultimately how moving it was. I actually found it very emotional read and to me that is really the source and then all the ingredients come out of that initial read and initial response.
Kriv on the biggest challenge of the film: :
[With the three stories] it's a balancing act, it's a very tricky kind of dance between all these stories and therefore I decided to shoot in a very specific way. I haven't wanted to go for traditional coverage – I wanted to shoot it in what I call a river of motion where we are continually going from one story to the next in this seamless, streaming movement and that requires shooting very long takes, doing scenes in one shot and that does a number of things that are both challenging and exciting.
Kriv summing up Australia Day: :
It's a story about stories and it's a story about where we are right now in this country. It's a story that looks into our differences but how our differences actually aren't that great perhaps and that our differences are also what binds us and what I think makes us a country and it's a story about finding a place, finding a place in your heart and your soul that is the right place to be.
Kriv on the importance of films like Australia Day:
I think it's very important that we make all kinds of films in Australia. We make entertainment but I think it's very important that we make films that make us look at our culture and our society critically, that's also makes us confront subject that we maybe like to ignore like racism and I think this film is important because it does open a conversation that will continue to occur as each Australia Day happens.
Kriv on working with Bryan Brown: :
What's great is that you have an actor like Bryan who takes part of him and puts it into the character and I think that's what all great actors do – they know what their limits are, they know what their strengths are and they use that knowledge, which they hone over years and years of working to know how best to make that instrument that that they are play the right music and the right notes in a perfect way.
Kriv on the importance of diversity in Australian films: :
It's absolutely integral that we cast the film over a broad spectrum of the community, we involved consultants from the indigenous, Persian and Chinese communities who were very involved and also very supportive and very open to us, talking about these stories in these ways because these are issues that they're dealing with daily so the diversity again is part of the definition of the film.
Kriv on why audiences should see Australia Day: :
I think it leaves the audience with not a dark or disturbing or depressing message but rather a hopeful one in that yes, we have these issues, we have these conflicts, we have these problems, and they're ongoing but there is a way perhaps of looking at the problems with more of an open mind and in that openness I'm hoping that maybe there is a way forward so that the film is very much positing a way for us to recalibrate who we are, to look at who we are and think about that and move forward carefully and hopefully into the future.
Stephen M Irwin – Writer:
Stephen is a screenwriter and novelist. He was creator and writer of Hoodlum's sixpart crime drama series Secrets & Lies, made originally for Australia's Network Ten in 2014 and remade in the USA for ABC starring Juliette Lewis, now in its second season. Stephen has had two acclaimed novels published: The Dead Path, and The Broken Ones, which was listed by Kirkus Reviews among the 100 Best Fiction of 2012. Both novels have been optioned for adaptation to the screen. He also has had published a number of award-winning short stories.
Stephen is writing the adaptation of the classic Australian novel Wake in Fright (for Network Ten), which is currently in production with Kriv Stenders directing and starring Sean Keenan. He is developing numerous shows for Australian and international television networks.
Hoodlum – Nathan Mayfield, Leigh McGrath, Tracey Robertson, Edward Herbert
Nathan Mayfield is the Chief Creative Officer and co-founder of Hoodlum, an Emmy® and BAFTA Award winning Entertainment Company. Hoodlum was started by Nathan and his business partner, Tracey Robertson, who have been working together for 19 years.
Nathan oversees the strategic and creative direction of Hoodlum with his focus the Australian and international business. Pioneering innovative new ways to tell stories since 1999, Mayfield has been the creative force behind Hoodlum's multiplatform work, television series and feature films working closely with Robertson to expand the business across the globe and across many different mediums.
In 2009 Hoodlum won a Primetime Emmy® for their work on Lost and an International Emmy® for their work on Primeval in 2010. Hoodlum also won two BATFA Awards for Spooks in 2008.
Mayfield produced the ten part series SLIDE for Foxtel, the six-part comedy series The Strange Calls for ABC2 and the six-part crime thriller Secrets & Lies for Network Ten. The series was then remade in the USA for ABC starring Juliette Lewis and is now in its second season.
In 2017 Nathan will release the feature film Australia Day, produce a gripping new TV series Harrow for ABC AUS and ABC Studios International as well as launch a controversial VR documentary for SBS.
Mayfield continues to find compelling stories for Hoodlum to produce and strives to lead the way in new forms of delivery.
Mayfield is a member of the Screen Producers Association and a member of the International Academy of Television Arts & Sciences and the Australian Academy of Cinema and Television Arts (AACTA). He was recently recognised as an outstanding alumni and made an Adjunct Professor of Creative Industries at the Queensland University of Technology.
Nathan on why the film is set on Australia Day:
From the outset we knew that we wanted to tell something that was around an event, a tent pole event that took place in Australia and we knew that these stories were going to be intrinsically Australian stories, issues, morals, values. It sort of became a no brainer that we would set this story on our national day. What did it mean to our audience, what did it actually mean to our characters and ultimately what it means to us as producers and storytellers?
Nathan on casting Bryan Brown:
From the outset we had a certain sort of cast in mind. Bryan Brown for us was always going to play Terry. It was just a matter of getting him on board, making sure that we could find a time that he was going to be available and he became a really important partner in how we were going to bring this to life. Bryan is an iconic Australian actor, he is politically sensitive to the topics that we touch on in Australia Day so it was all about getting those spinning plates in sync and once we had that we knew we had our Terry and he embraced that character, brought it to life and really pushed it to places we didn't expect.
Leigh McGrath began his television career as a scriptwriter and story editor on serial drama in Australia. In 1999, he joined Fremantle Media in London as a story consultant and worked on daily drama series in Sweden, Italy and Finland, and developed original drama concepts for the UK and European markets. In 2002 Leigh was appointed Story Editor on ITV's long-running police drama series The Bill. He later joined the BBC and script edited a variety of independent drama productions commissioned by BBC children's. His UK credits include the BBC1 telemovie The Lost Christmas, starring Eddie Izzard, MI High for Kudos, Me & My Monsters for Tiger Aspect and Combat Kids for Lime Pictures. He was also involved in the development and assessment of program ideas for commissioning.
Aside from story editing, Leigh has also been a prolific scriptwriter. His Australian scriptwriting credits include: Home and Away, Out Of The Blue, Pacific Drive, plus Winners & Losers for the Seven Network.
in 2012, he joined the award-winning creative team at Hoodlum. Here he coproduced the ABC2 comedy series The Strange Calls. Leigh also produced the sixpart crime thriller Secrets & Lies for Network Ten, which has been adapted for the US's ABC Network starring Juliette Lewis and is now in its second season.
Leigh on the three separate narratives:
Part of the early development was how can we tell this story that is going to speak to a lot of different people, a lot of different audiences, and have multi-generational appeal but speak to different layers in the Australian psyche and what is going on out there, and the more we thought about it, the more we thought there's more than one story here that we'd really like to tell so why don't we break it up in to three or four separate stories. Traffic and Crash were great models for this kind of storytelling – we were big fans of those kinds of films,
Leigh on casting Australia Day:
The story is so authentic and the story is so well told that we didn't want to do it a disservice by not casting it well. We wanted Mandarin speakers, we wanted Persian speakers, we wanted a real symbol of Australia, which Bryan Brown is for that generation, it's been great putting the cast together.
Leigh on the importance of stories like Australia Day:
Australia Day seems to be more relevant now than ever before. If you look in the paper there's a culture of fear out there, people are scared, you hear Trump at the moment talking about building walls up to keep people out. There's a real fear around other culture and other races and I think it's something you've got to address and the film does that really well. In Australia we are welcome, we open our arms to people but of course there's also an undercurrent in this country today. And this film does explore that but also leaves you with hope that we decide our destiny, we decide our futures and we are the ones who can do that. We don't have to be led by other people and that's why I think Australia Day is so important and will resonate so well with audiences.
Leigh on shooting in Brisbane:
Brisbane in January is hot, it's humid, the sun has a sting to it that I think nowhere else in Australia has. For those of us who live here, days like Australia Day are brutal and that's part of the attraction of doing the story on that day. The heat, the intensity of it, as the heat builds over the day so do our stories and we're kind of using Brisbane and its surrounds and temperature to help us tell our story.
Tracey Robertson is the Chief Executive Officer and co-founder of Hoodlum, an Emmy® and BAFTA Award winning Entertainment Company. Hoodlum was started by Tracey and her business partner, Nathan Mayfield, who have been working together for 19 years.
As CEO Tracey oversees Hoodlum Television, connecting with networks and studios to produce content in Australia and around the world.
Tracey currently resides in Los Angeles where she completed the production of Season 2 of Secrets & Lies, a 10-part series for ABC Network starring Juliette Lewis, based on the Australian six-part series starring Martin Henderson and written by Stephen M Irwin. Along with this, Hoodlum has sold two other Australian shows into the US, The Strange Calls, with 20th Century Fox and NBC and Fat Cow Motel, with ABC Studios and ABC Network. Tracey is also in development on a number of US and UK original shows for both network, cable and VOD providers.
Robertson is currently in preparation on HARROW, a 10 part series with ABC Australia and ABC Studios International (ABCSI's first scripted drama outside of the USA) and TIDELANDS, a 10 part series for Netflix, being their first original TV series for the territory.
Tracey is a member of BAFTA LA, the International Academy of Television Arts & Sciences and the Australian Academy of Cinema and Television Arts (AACTA). She was recently recognised as an outstanding alumni and made an Adjunct Professor of Creative Industries at the Queensland University of Technology.
Edward Herbert began his film television career in the legal sector working initially for prominent entertainment lawyers Nina Stevenson and Greg Sitch. In 2011, Ed moved into a more active production role as the Business & Legal Affairs Manager of prominent Brisbane, Australia based production company Hoodlum.
Working closely with the CEO (Tracey Robertson) and CCO (Nathan Mayfield), Ed provided strategic commercial advice and contract negotiation for the business generally, as well as for all of its multiplatform and drama projects such as SLiDE (Foxtel), The Strange Calls (ABC2), The Bourne Legacy, Operation Intel (Universal, Vikings and Texas Rising: The Lost Soldier (History Channel). Ed was an Associate Producer on Secrets & Lies (Network Ten) and helped negotiate its format sale into the US on ABC America.
In 2015 Ed became General Manager of Hoodlum and continued to work across all of Hoodlum's projects in a range of different roles, including producing Hoodlum's first feature film, Australia Day. Ed has now established his own production company, Bright Army, and is developing a range of primarily genre-based feature and television projects.
Edward on casting Miah Madden:
Miah has been an absolute joy to work with. She's incredible. She's an athlete and with the things that we're asking her to do and she's absolutely relishing it. Not only is she the emotional core but she has to carry a huge swathe of the film mostly dialogue free, just selling it with her expressions in her eyes, and for a 14-year-old girl to do and to deliver the performance she has is just astounding.
Ed on the importance of films like Australia Day:
Something in my life I feel quite strongly about and I think that this film demonstrates quite admirably is that no pun intended – there is no black and white, you don't have to look at the extremes of any particular situation. There is always a point in between and there's a confirmation bias – a mode of thinking where people tend to look for information and beliefs that reaffirm their own beliefs and any information that goes contrary to that you try and interpret in a way that simply runs into the way you believe. And to me where we're at politically and culturally at the moment that notion at any particular point time and setting it on Australia Day with all of the loaded history that that comes with and the ambiguity that's started to surround what the actual meaning of Australia Day is just perfect to set that catalyst in motion.
Penny Win – Foxtel Head of Drama
Penny started her media career in radio in New Zealand. She went on to work in television in Australia, New Zealand and Hong Kong and is experienced in both freeto-air and subscription television.
Penny came to Foxtel in 1996 after working at Star TV in Hong Kong and managed the running of Foxtel's drama channels from 2007 to 2014.
In 2014 she was appointed as Head of Drama to focus on the local production slate. Penny has been involved in the commissioning of drama for the past five years and worked on the commissioning of Spirited, Wentworth, Devil's Playground, Deadline Gallipoli, The Kettering Incident and Secret City.
She is also an executive producer of showcase's acclaimed Australian series A Place To Call Home, produced by Seven Productions for Foxtel.
Penny commissioned and executive produced Foxtel's first feature film, Australia Day, which will be released in cinemas in 2017 before having its Australian television premiere on Foxtel Movies.
This year Penny is also the executive producer of Foxtel's re-imagining of Joan Lindsay's timeless Australian novel, Picnic At Hanging Rock and Fighting Season, a powerful exploration of the experiences of Australian soldiers returned from duty.
Nathan Mayfield on working with Foxtel:
We worked with Foxtel in the early stages of this story. They've been an absolute champion and I think it is for them because one of their key messages and key goals is to be the home of Australian stories, a good Australian storyteller. They've never waivered and are as ambitious and as enthusiastic about this project from the outset. We've worked very closely with Penny Win, the commissioner there and also brought her insight into the stories. In so many ways Foxtel have been the dream studio. They've been collaborative, challenging and we've always felt supported.
Release Date: September 21st, 2017