Redfern Now

Last updated

Redfern Now
Redfern Now poster.jpg
GenreDrama
Written byJon Bell
Wayne Blair
Michelle Blanchard
Danielle MacLean
Steven McGregor
Leah Purcell
Adrian Russell Wills
Directed by Rachel Perkins
Wayne Blair
Leah Purcell
Catriona McKenzie
Adrian Russell Wills
Beck Cole
Starring Jimi Bani
Wayne Blair
Dean Daley-Jones
Rarriwuy Hick
Johnny Lever
Deborah Mailman
Marley Sharp
Kelton Pell
Leah Purcell
Tessa Rose
Shari Sebbens
Miranda Tapsell
Opening theme"Lonely Child" by Kira Puru
Country of origin Australia
Original languageEnglish
No. of series2 + 1 telemovie
No. of episodes13
Production
Executive producersErica Glynn
Sally Riley
ProducersDarren Dale
Miranda Dear
Production locations Redfern, New South Wales, Australia
CinematographyMark Wareham
Jules O'Loughlin
EditorsDany Cooper
Nicholas Holmes
Running time60 minutes
Production company Blackfella Films
Distributor Australian Broadcasting Corporation
Release
Original network ABC1
Picture format 576i (SDTV)
Audio formatStereo
Original release1 November 2012 (2012-11-01) 
9 April 2015 (2015-04-09)
External links
Website
Production website

Redfern Now is an Australian drama television series, that first aired on ABC1 in 2012. The program follows the lives of 6 Aboriginal Australian families living in the urban hub of Redfern, Sydney. The series provides insight into contemporary issues facing Aboriginal Australians, including lack of employment and mental illness, which are positioned as direct ramifications of colonialisation and the Stolen Generations. Produced by Blackfella Films as part of the ABC’s Indigenous Department, the show is the first series to be ‘commissioned, written, acted and produced by Indigenous Australians’. [1] The series’ release contributes to widespread public debate surrounding Indigenous representation in the Australian media.

Contents

The first season received five AACTA award nominations for 2013. [2] The series has received numerous additional AACTA nominations, winning 5 in total, including Best Lead Actress in a Television Drama for Leah Purcell, Best Screenplay in Television, and Best Television Drama Series.

A second season was commissioned in late 2012 [3] and went into production in May 2013, [4] premiering 31 October 2013. [5] The series concluded with a telemovie titled Promise Me which aired on 9 April 2015. [6]

Cast

Series overview

SeriesEpisodesOriginally aired
First airedLast aired
1 61 November 2012 (2012-11-01)6 December 2012 (2012-12-06)
2 631 October 2013 (2013-10-31)5 December 2013 (2013-12-05)
3 19 April 2015 (2015-04-09)N/A

Episodes

Series 1

No. in
series
No. in
season
TitleDirected byWritten byOriginal air dateAustralian Viewers
11"Family" [7] Catriona McKenzieDanielle MacLean1 November 2012 (2012-11-01)721,000 [7]
Grace (Leah Purcell) and Wesley (Alec Doomadgee) haven't had a holiday for years - with two kids and Wesley's work, there hasn't been time. Now ready to go, Grace discovers that her sister is off her meds and unable to look after her children so Grace has to find temporary care for the children, but nobody wants to care for them.
22"Joyride" [8] Catriona McKenzieMichelle Blanchard8 November 2012 (2012-11-08)644,000 [8]
In her mid fifties, Coral (Tessa Rose), works in a food van, which sometimes brings her into contact with victims of abuse, leading her to the mistaken conclusion that her daughter's bruised face is the result of more than just an accident. When Coral is hit by a stolen car (the joyride) with Danny as a passenger, her granddaughter, Julie, arrives to look after her, but she is forced into hospital. Danny comes seeking forgiveness and falls in love with Julie.
33"Raymond" [9] Wayne BlairAdrian Russell Wills15 November 2012 (2012-11-15)654,000 [9]
Raymond (Kelton Pell) and Lorraine (Deborah Mailman) have it pretty sweet - house, four kids and Raymond has been nominated for an award for his services to community. But Raymond's celebrity has put him under scrutiny and he is investigated for unduly claiming benefits. Someone may have dobbed him in, but the question is who?
44"Stand Up" [10] Rachel PerkinsSteven McGregor22 November 2012 (2012-11-22)620,000 [10]
Sixteen-year-old Joel Shields (Aaron McGrath) has just won an Indigenous scholarship to Clifton Grammar School - one of Sydney's most elite private schools. However, things get complicated when he is forced to sit down for what he believes in.
55"Sweet Spot" [11] Leah Purcell Jon Bell29 November 2012 (2012-11-29)560,000 [11]
Indigo (Dean Daley-Jones) is a professional boxer so he knows how to hit a man, how to land the perfect punch, how to find the sweet spot, but also how to recognise a sweet spot when he has found it.
66"Pretty Boy Blue" [12] Rachel PerkinsSteven McGregor6 December 2012 (2012-12-06)603,000 [12]
Aaron Davis (Wayne Blair) is proud of his police uniform, proud of the community in which he works and very proud of his daughter Robyn (Rarriwuy Hick) and his 3 year old granddaughter Donna. What happens when he loses pride in himself and what does he have to do to find his way again?

Series 2

No. in
series
No. in
season
Title [13] Directed byWritten byOriginal air dateAustralian Viewers [13]
71"Where The Heart Is"Adrian Russell WillsAdrian Russell Wills31 October 2013 (2013-10-31)604,000
When a freak accident takes the life of his partner Richard, Peter (Kirk Page) has to fight Richard's mother (Noni Hazlehurst) to keep custody of their daughter.
82"Starting Over"Rachel PerkinsJon Bell7 November 2013 (2013-11-07)529,000
Aaron Davis's (Wayne Blair) career in the force is on hold since an Aboriginal teenager died in police custody on his shift, but his life changes when he begins a relationship with a neighbour (Lisa Flanagan).
93"Babe In Arms"Adrian Russell WillsSteven McGregor14 November 2013 (2013-11-14)449,000
New parents, Janine (Caren Pistorius) and Justin (Meyne Wyatt) are tested to their limit when their newborn son goes missing and suspicions grow in the community and then between one another.
104"Consequences"Leah PurcellLeah Purcell21 November 2013 (2013-11-21)478,000
Mattie (Tammy Clarkson Jones) races to share the news of her PhD with her estranged white father Jack (Craig McLachlan) - who she hasn't seen in 19 years - only to find he has died days earlier.
115"Pokies"Beck ColeSteven McGregor28 November 2013 (2013-11-28)469,000
Nic Shields (Ursula Yovich) spends her lunchtimes playing the pokies, and in a desperate attempt to absolve a whirlpool of deceit and debt she has found herself in, stages a robbery.
126"Dogs Of War" Wayne Blair Wayne Blair 5 December 2013 (2013-12-05)483,000
The purchase of an undisciplined guard dog poisons relationships between Redfern neighbours and aggravates a malignant memory for ex-serviceman Ernie (Ernie Dingo).

Telemovie

No. in
series
No. in
season
TitleDirected byWritten byOriginal air dateAustralian Viewers
131"Redfern Now: Promise Me (Telemovie)" [14] Rachel PerkinsSteven McGregor9 April 2015 (2015-04-09)455,000 [14]
When a young Aboriginal woman is raped and doesn't report it, it has consequences she never could have imagined.

Background and production

The ABC’s Indigenous Department was founded in 2010, and headed by Aboriginal film maker and producer Sally Riley. [1] As director of the department, Riley aimed to create content which advocated for Aboriginal self-representation, and allowed for increased participation of Indigenous creatives in the media industry. [15] Initial success for the department was achieved through the production of the shows First Australians and Mabo. [1] Redfern Now took two years for the department to produce, and created more than 250 jobs for Indigenous people in the film making industry. [15]

Sally Riley called upon British screen writer Jimmy McGovern to work on this series. McGovern’s previous work which featured gritty realism and suburban life, was similar to what Riley envisioned for Redfern Now. [1] While he was unfamiliar with Aboriginal culture, McGovern was experienced in working with marginalised communities in Britain and Ireland. [16] The Indigenous Department of the ABC had originally aimed to a create an Aboriginal spin-off of a series that McGovern has previously worked on called The Street. Although, purchasing the rights to recreate the series proved too costly for the department, and so Riley and McGovern came up with the idea for Redfern Now. [16]

Leah Purcell, who worked alongside Jimmy McGovern in the screen writing process. Leah Purcell.jpg
Leah Purcell, who worked alongside Jimmy McGovern in the screen writing process.

The screen writing process itself took place over 9 months, as McGovern work shopped with five Aboriginal writers. [17] The series was based on truth according to McGovern who said, ‘the actual writing was their responsibility totally. But the shaping of the story we did together.' [18] It was vital to him that the series was not another documentary style history or autobiography that audiences had already seen on television. [18] With little technical experience in screen writing, key producer and writer Leah Purcell stated that McGovern’s blunt feedback was ‘absolutely what we needed’. [19]

Redfern Now was directed by a group of experienced Aboriginal people in the industry including Rachel Perkins, Catriona McKenzie and Leah Purcell. Wayne Blair, the director of award- winning Australian film The Sapphires , was a particularly notable director involved in Redfern Now. [1] Blackfella Films, which produced Redfern Now, was established in 1992 by Rachel Perkins and her then business partner Michael Riley. The organisation focuses a collaborative, ground- up approach to film and television making. The current managing director of Blackfella Films is Darren Dale. [20]

Setting

Redfern as part of the urban Sydney city landscape. Redfern as part of the urban Sydney city landscape.jpg
Redfern as part of the urban Sydney city landscape.

Inner city suburb Redfern, was an automatic choice as the setting for this ABC series. Today it is a dynamic and vibrant place, which holds great cultural significance for the Aboriginal community. [21]

Since the 1960s Redfern has been a site for Aboriginal activism and political attention. Redfern is widely recognised as the location of then Prime Minister Paul Keating’s ‘Redfern Speech’ in 1992. This event marked the Australian government’s first public acknowledgement of the dispossession of Aboriginal people and the need for reconciliation. [22] Redfern is also geographically in close proximity to the landing place of the first European settlers in Sydney, thus is a relevant location to be considering the impacts of colonialism on Indigenous people. [22]

The Block, Redfern. The block redfern.jpg
The Block, Redfern.

‘The Block’ is a particular group of houses in Redfern owned by the Aboriginal Housing Company, and is recognisable as the venue of the 2004 youth riots for Aboriginal rights. [21] It is the main location within Redfern, where the characters in the series interact and exist with each other.

Despite its tumultuous history, Sarah Riley said Redfern is now a positive place. [21] It has a strong Aboriginal culture, which is clear in the Indigenous art that marks the streets and parks in the suburb. [22] Aboriginal communities put a lot of important on place, and due to the long history of Indigenous people in Redfern, it now constitutes a place of belonging for many individuals. [22]

Theme song

Each episode opens with the song Lonely Child, performed by Indigenous Australian musician Kira Puru, and The Bruise. [23] The lyrics of the sombre song, ‘reach out and touch me, take my hand, and walk me home’, reflect dominant aspects of the storyline such as decolonisation. The song lyrics aimed to pose an atmosphere of openness for audiences, which could invite participation between Aboriginal and non-aboriginal Australian’s in the process of healing. [24]

Themes, storyline and character

Each episode of the series introduces new characters, and explores a different social or political issue that faces Aboriginal families in urban Australia. Every episode is able to be viewed discretely, without having seen other parts of the series. [25] While the storylines do examine the disparities between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal Australians, Redfern Now is a fictional series that focuses on character journeys, rather than a documentary. [25]

Police officer Aaron Davis, played by Wayne Blair, is the only character to appear in multiple episodes throughout the series. The character encapsulates the distress that many Indigenous people experience, due to the disparity that exists between representing the needs of their Aboriginal community while also trying to abide by white cultural norms. He is a character who has ‘one foot in Redfern and one foot in the outside world’, according to Metro Magazine. [26] The series is relevant in exploring the ongoing debate within urban Aboriginal communities, centring around who can be classified as Aboriginal and who cannot be. This is salient in relation to character Julie, played by Shari Sebbens. The character is complimented on not looking Aboriginal, despite living with her Indigenous family in Redfern.

Despite these dark and confronting storylines, the series is interspersed with intentional moments of humour. According to screenwriter McGovern, these are essential to keeping the viewer engaged in content that could so easily become alienating. The comedic side of the show stems from Aboriginal culture, where people are intent of finding ‘humour in adversity’. [1]

Aboriginal representation in film and television

Redfern Now has been ‘ground breaking’, because of how it confronts the historical way that Aboriginality has been defined on television. [1]

Australia’s distinct colonial history means that representations of Aboriginal people on television screens have traditionally been distorted and tokenistic, and contributed to perpetuating racist cultural stereotypes. [27] This results from non-Aboriginal people historically being positioned behind the camera as storywriters, producers and directors, who objectify Aboriginal actors in front of the camera. [28] There has been a clear distinction between the authors and subjects of creative works.

The concept of Aboriginality itself is a dynamic ‘social thing’, that is shaped through intercultural experiences and dialogue between non-indigenous and Indigenous Australians. As Aboriginal scholar Marcia Langton suggests, the predominant interactions that non-aboriginal audiences have with Aboriginal people is through what they observe on television. So, it is essential that these representations are authentic and do not convey colonial tropes. [29]

The 1991 National Inquiry into Racist Violence, conducted by the Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission, expressed concerns about the lack of diversity on Australian Screens and encouraged increased recruitment of Indigenous people in the media industry. [30] Since then, representation has improved so that while Aboriginal people make up 3% of the Australian population, they make up 5% of people in Australian television dramas. [31] Departments such as the government funded Screen Australia, and the ABC’s Indigenous Department, have been dedicated to leading the way in improving diverse representation. [32]

Redfern Now is centred around an Aboriginal community, as opposed to previous representations on television where Aboriginal people are cast as the friend or supporting actor. Aboriginal directors, producers and writers worked on the series, meaning that characters could ‘play roles written by them, not for them’. [1] Scholar Felicity Collins believes that it is these genuine representations which create an atmosphere of openness, that allow for audience engagement in the process of intercultural dialogue. [21]

Since Redfern Now, the ABC’s Indigenous department have created other comedies and dramas of a similar nature. Shows like ‘Gods of Wheat Street’ (2014), ‘Black Comedy’ (2014), 8MMM (2015), and ‘Cleverman’ (2016) were inspired by the success of Redfern Now. [32]

Reception

The series has generally received critical praise. Of the first episode Melinda Houston of The Age said, "It makes for television that works on every level: as an important cultural contribution, as a vehicle for sensational actors, writers, directors and technicians, as a great conversation-starter and as a fabulous piece of drama." [33] Based on the second episode, Bob Ellis writes, "It was very well done indeed, and the mixture, like Obama’s Dreams From My Father , of honesty, eloquence and hope, bids fair... for a series outcome that may well be seen, in sum, hereafter, as a classic." [34] After viewing the third episode, the television writer for The Canberra Times writes, "Redfern Now is probably as important as any drama produced this year. This is really mature and clever storytelling with the strangest taste of an old O. Henry morality tale." [35]

Redfern Now received criticism from some conservative commentators. They questioned the shows separation of the identity of Aboriginal people living in urban settings, from the perceived ‘authentic’ rural Aboriginal identity. [36]

Generally feedback received was overwhelmingly positive, with The Sydney Morning Herald calling the first airing a ‘landmark moment’ for Australian television. [37] Metro Magazine noted that the themes explored did not appear like tokenistic tropes, as they often have on other shows which explore Aboriginal issues. They reviewed that the dark themes only existed in the background, and at the foreground were deep character explorations which assisted in presenting a rich and diverse culture. [36] The show did not appear overly political, because of a greater focus on domestic, emotive scenes. [38]

The series received 7.9/10 stars on IMDb. [39] The Guardian awarded the final telemovie 4/5 stars, stating that ‘it will be missed, but the series concludes at the peak of its power.’ [38]

The series was bought by Netflix for certain regions. It has resonated with international audiences, being sold to France Televisions. [20]

Graham Blundell, Australian actor and writer, admitted to expecting ‘something grim and grey in tone’ for a series set in Redfern. [40] Instead, he noted in a review that the series was ‘stylised and quite beautiful to look at’. Cinematographers Mark Wareham and Jules O’Loughlin have presented Redfern as a bright, sensory and vibrant place. Attributing to this sense of Redfern as a multidimensional place, is the diverse settings which includes schools, homes, streets, alleys and cafes. [23]

See also

Awards and nominations

YearAwardCategoryRecipients and nomineesResult
2012ASSG Awards [41] Best Sound for a Television Drama SeriesSeries 1, Episode 6 'Pretty Boy Blue' - Wes Chew, Sam Gain Emery, Mick Boraso, Luke Mynott, Blair Slater, Andrew Simmons, Duncan McAllister, Dan Johnston, Robert Mackenzie, Paul "Salty" Brincat, Shanti Burn, Ruth VanceWon
2013 AACTA Awards [42] Best Television Drama SeriesRedfern Now - Darren Dale and Miranda Dear.Nominated
Best Screenplay in TelevisionSeries 1, Episode 6 'Pretty Boy Blue' - Steven McGregor.Won
Best Lead Actress in a Television Drama Leah Purcell Won
Best Guest or Supporting Actor in a Television Drama Luke Carroll Nominated
Best Guest or Supporting Actress in a Television DramaShareena ClantonNominated
Logie Awards [4] [43] Most Popular Actress Deborah Mailman Nominated
Most Outstanding Drama Series Redfern NowWon
Most Outstanding Actress Leah PurcellNominated
Graham Kennedy Award for Most Outstanding New Talent Shari Sebbens Won
Deadly Awards [44] TV Show of the YearRedfern NowWon
Male Actor of the Year Luke Carroll Won
Female Actor of the Year Deborah Mailman Won
ADG Awards [45] Best Direction in a TV Drama SeriesSeries 1, Episode 6 'Pretty Boy Blue' - Rachel PerkinsWon
ASE Awards [46] Best Editing in Television DramaRedfern Now - Series 1, Episode 1 'Family' - Dany Cooper ASENominated
Redfern Now - Series 1, Episode 6 ‘Pretty Boy Blue’ - Nicholas Holmes ASENominated
NSW/ACT ACS Awards [47] John Bowring ACS TV Station Breaks / Promos - Gold MedalRedfern Now - Titles - Tom GleesonWon
Australian Screen Music AwardsBest Music for a Television Series or Serials [48] Redfern Now - Series 1, Episode 4 'Stand Up' - David McCormack and Antony PartosWon
Best Television Theme [49] Redfern Now - David McCormack and Antony PartosNominated
Best Original Song Composed for the Screen [50] Lonely Child from 'Redfern Now' - David McCormack and Antony PartosWon
2014 ACS Awards [51] John Bowring ACS TV Station Breaks / Promos - Golden TripodRedfern Now - Titles - Tom GleesonWon
AACTA Awards [52] Best Television Drama SeriesRedfern Now - Series 2 - Darren Dale and Miranda Dear.Won
Best Screenplay in TelevisionSeries 2, Episode 3 'Babe in Arms' - Steven McGregor.Nominated
Best Cinematography in TelevisionSeries 2, Episode 6 'Dogs of War' - Jules O'Loughlin ACS.Nominated
Best Editing in TelevisionSeries 2, Episode 6 'Dogs of War' - Dany Cooper ASE.Nominated
Best Sound in TelevisionSeries 2, Episode 3 'Babes in Arms' - Grant Shepherd, Wes Chew, Robert MacKenzie, Tom Herdman & Sam Gain-EmeryNominated
Best Original Music Score in TelevisionSeries 2, Episode 3 'Babe in Arms' - Antony PartosWon
Best Lead Actor in a Television Drama Ernie Dingo Nominated
Meyne Wyatt Nominated
Logie Awards [53] Most Outstanding Drama SeriesRedfern NowWon
Most Outstanding Actor Kirk PageNominated
Graham Kennedy Award for Most Outstanding New TalentMeyne WyattNominated
Most Popular New TalentCaren PistoriusNominated
ASE Awards [54] Best Editing in Television DramaRedfern Now - Series 2, Episode 1 'Where The Heart Is' - Nicholas Holmes ASEWon
Australian Screen Music Awards [55] Best Music for a Television Series or SerialRedfern Now - Series 2, Episode 3 'Babe in Arms' - Antony PartosNominated
APDG Awards [56] Design on a Television DramaRedfern Now - Felicity Abbott (Production Designer) Design Team: Loretta Cosgrove (Art Director), Christian Petersen (Set Decorator), Peter Malatesta (Property Master), Michael Kissane (Standby Props), Zuzia Buszewicz (Buyer/Dresser). Highly CommendedNominated
2015 AACTA Awards [57] Best Lead Actor in a Television DramaWayne BlairNominated
Best Lead Actress in a Television DramaDeborah MailmanNominated
Best Guest or Supporting Actress in a Television DramaRarriwuy HickNominated
Best Cinematography in Television'Promise Me' - Mark Wareham ACSNominated
Best Editing in Television'Promise Me' - Nicholas Holmes ASEWon
Best Sound in Television'Promise Me' - Rainier Davenport, Ian McLoughlin CAS, Wes Chew, Tom Herdman, Annie Breslin & Blair SlaterNominated
Best Original Music Score in Television'Promise Me' - Antony PartosNominated
ASE Awards [58] Best Editing in Television Drama'Promise Me' - Nicholas Holmes ASENominated
Australian Screen Music Awards [59] Best Music for a Mini-Series or TelemovieRedfern Now - Antony PartosNominated
APDG Awards [60] Production Design on a Television Drama'Promise Me' - Felicity Abbott APDGNominated
ASSG Awards [61] Best Sound for a Tele Feature'Promise Me' - Wes Chew, Luke Mynott, Ian Mcloughlin, Tom Herdman, Annie Breslin, Sam Gain-Emery, Ryan Millard, Dan Johnston, Duncan Mcallister, Blair Slater, Tom Pastro, Ranier Davenport, Sam Davis and Paradox Delilah.Nominated
2016 Logie Awards [62] Most Outstanding Actress Deborah MailmanWon
Most Outstanding Supporting ActressRarriwuy HickNominated

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