New drama from diverse Victorian filmmakers set to hit SBS screens

Two original short films that give voice to diverse groups and further the careers of their creators will premiere on streaming platform SBS On Demand in mid-2019, thanks to SBS and Film Victoria.

Currently in pre-production, the films are the work of Victorian-based creative teams from backgrounds currently underrepresented in the screen industry and are supported through the SBS/Film Victoria Scripted Short Initiative.

The initiative, which was developed to provide greater opportunities for creatives from underrepresented and diverse communities, called for ambitious, distinctive drama ideas that explore multiculturalism and diversity from fresh perspectives.

Arab Australian writer/director Fatima Mawas has teamed up with experienced producers Leanne Tonkes from Sense and Centsability and Ade Djajamihardja on The Wedding of the Century. It is the story of a 28-year-old Muslim woman with Down syndrome who is secretly planning the wedding of her dreams amidst her parents’ struggle with unwanted community attention, pressure and shame as a result of her disability. Being from a Muslim family, Ade brings a unique perspective to inclusive storytelling as a stroke survivor living with disability.

Fatima Mawas said: "The initiative’s hands on approach really helped me identify my strengths and weaknesses as a writer, and also provided the support, resources and time I needed to grow. And as an emerging filmmaker, the opportunity to have one-on-one conversations with a broadcaster gave me confidence in my own ability and in the future of Australian storytelling."

Melbourne-based Indigenous production company Brown Cabs is working on Out of Range, with John Harvey as writer/director and Lydia Fairhall as producer. Exploring the theme of Indigenous men as fathers, the film centres on Max and his estranged son Levi who, when their car breaks down during a fishing trip, discover that being stranded and out of range may be just what they need to feel more connected. 

John Harvey said: "The Scripted Short Initiative is a fantastic opportunity for me to extend my language of storytelling; to take the strength of my first few films which were so visually driven and to use this chance to really hone in on dialogue and narrative. Ultimately this has allowed me to explore the authentic voice in the story and helped me take the film to a stronger place". 

Both projects came through a multi-step selection process, which gave participating creative teams the opportunity to hone their pitching and script development skills. Of the eight Victorian teams shortlisted to pitch their ideas, five then underwent an intensive script development workshop run by SBS, with a Film Victoria-funded mentor by their side. The Wedding of the Century and Out of Range were selected to progress to production, and each received $70,000.

Building on Film Victoria’s ongoing commitment to growing diversity in the screen sector, the SBS/Film Victoria Scripted Short Initiative is part of a national short-form content initiative between SBS and six of Australia’s screen agencies to create opportunities for creatives from under represented communities including individuals living with disability, and creatives from multicultural, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander, and LGBITQ+ communities.


The Wedding of the Century is casting now, with filming to take place in late March or early April 2019. Learn more on the Sense and Centsability websites.


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