SundanceTV and Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC TV) together announced that the drama series “Cleverman” will launch in the USA on SundanceTV on Wed., June 1 at 10/9c, and in Australia on ABC and ABC iview on Thu., June 2 at 9.30pm.
Set in the near future, “Cleverman” is a startlingly original drama rooted in Aboriginal mythology. The series depicts a deeply conflicted and anxious society, fearful of a minority group living among them, endowed with extraordinary physical traits. One young man — The Cleverman — struggles with his own power and the responsibility to unite this divided world, but he must first overcome a deep estrangement from his older brother.
The six-part series, which reflects on issues of racism, asylum seekers and border protection, is based on an original concept by Ryan Griffen.
“’Cleverman’ is that rare feat of a well-crafted genre series that reimagines what a superhero is, and a compelling character drama that also has something important to say about the world we live in today. Ryan Griffen’s use of Aboriginal mythology as a way into the larger issue of how we treat indigenous and immigrant populations makes for a very potent piece of storytelling from a very authentic voice that is both entertaining and relevant,” said Joel Stillerman, president of original programming and development for AMC and SundanceTV. “We are proud to share this with audiences in the U.S. at the same time as our partners in Australia.”
“’Cleverman’ marks a new era for Australia’s production sector, inviting audiences to experience a bold new story-world where Aboriginal storytelling meets high concept genre drama. With an 80% Indigenous cast, ‘Cleverman’ sets the benchmark for diversity on Australian television, and its contemporary themes set in the near future will resonate widely amongst diverse audiences. We are delighted that our co-partners SundanceTV will screen the show to its US audiences in line with when our Australian audiences will experience it. A global television event for an Indigenous authored show…we’re excited!” said Sally Riley, Head of Indigenous, ABC TV.
“I have a huge love of superheroes and comics. It got me thinking about creating something cultural that my young son could connect to on a superhero basis,” said Ryan Griffen, Concept Originator. “I wanted to bring something Aboriginal, Indigenous, to that world. As the son of a light-skinned Aboriginal man and a light-skinned Aboriginal woman, it was important for me that my son had a cultural superhero that he could look up to as a young Aboriginal person…something he could connect to that was also entertaining.”
“Cleverman” features an ensemble cast led by Iain Glen, Frances O’Connor, Deborah Mailman, Hunter Page-Lochard, Rob Collins and Stef Dawson.
Wayne Blair, director of the Australian box office hit “The Sapphires” (which was covered on this blog last year), and upcoming film “Septembers of Shiraz,” is lead director, with acclaimed director, writer, actress and performer Leah Purcell also directing.
The series is produced by Goalpost Pictures Australia and New Zealand’s Pukeko Pictures for ABC TV Australia in co-production with SundanceTV and Red Arrow International, with the assistance of Screen Australia, Screen NSW and the New Zealand Screen Production Grant.
Ahead of its June 1 SundanceTV premiere, watch a trailer for the groundbreaking series, followed by 3 clips: