Redfern Now centres on a diverse group of individuals from 6 families whose lives are changed by a freakish or serendipitous occurrence. The characters are caught at moments that in time define them: a decision to pick up the phone, to ignore a cry for help, the refusal to sing the national anthem, a moment of sexual jealousy, a seemingly insignificant car accident, a thought that suddenly consumes.
Their response to these moments threatens their work, their love lives, their equilibrium, and their identity. And we can only gape in amazement at how elegantly those involved in this production have taken these moments and filled them with resonance and meaning.
Each episode is like a beautifully constructed short story that sees straight to the fragile hearts of Redfern Now's characters, without the stories becoming sentimental or obdurately political.
Scratch the surface of Redfern Now and you will find burning emotions, deep divisions and enduring spirit. But the exterior is full of anger, poverty, injustice, violence and intolerance.
Following the success of Redfern Now, ABC1 produced Redfern Now Series 2.
We have assembled an astonishingly talented team of Indigenous writers and directors and some of the best actors in the country to create what we think will be some of the most powerful, heartfelt and dramatic television of the year.— Darren Dale, Blackfella Films
Redfern Now features a separate story and characters each week. These are six households in which lives are changed by seemingly insignificant moments.
Episode 1: Family
Director: Catriona McKenzie, writer: Danielle Maclean
Grace and Wesley haven't had a decent holiday in years. Now they're off on the holiday of a lifetime with their two children, and the taxi is waiting.
Just as Grace is about to shut the door, her nephew Tyler calls to say that Grace's sister Lily, is off her medication and raving, and he and his sister Maddi need help. Grace not only has to have her sister committed, and find a temporary home for the children, but has to get it all done in time for the family to make their flight.
However one relative after another declines to take both children, and Grace arrives home with Tyler to a very icy reception. She will need to consider fostering Tyler and Maddi longer term, which doesn't go down well with the family.
But then Tyler disappears and seems to have taken Maddi with him. Grace eventually finds them at the hospital - astonished to discover they walked ten kilometres to see their mum - something her own spoilt kids would never do. How will she look after these special kids?
Episode 2: Joyride
Director: Catriona McKenzie, writer: Michelle Blanchard
In her mid fifties, Coral's work brings her into contact with victims of abuse, which leads her to the mistaken conclusion that her daughter Rosie's bruised face is the result of domestic violence. So they don't talk.
On her way home from the local shops, Coral is knocked down by some teenage boys in a stolen car. One of them, Danny, who hadn't wanted to joyride anyway, stays to call an ambulance, but leaves before it arrives. The police trace the call back to his mobile, but Danny won't grass his mates and is sent to juvenile detention.
Released from hospital, Coral begins to have dizzy spells. She reluctantly lets her granddaughter Julie come to stay, but complains that Rosie - Julie's mother - didn't offer to come. All Julie wants is for them to forgive and forget. When the spells get worse, Coral is re-admitted to hospital and Julie agrees to stay on to look after the house.
Newly released from detention, Danny arrives with some stolen birdseed as an apology to Coral, but meets Julie instead. Properly smitten, he pretends he's from the pet shop. A romance slowly develops until Coral reveals that Danny was one of the kids who hit her. Julie refuses to see Danny, but he's determined to convince Julie and Coral of his innocence.
Episode 3: Raymond
Director: Wayne Blair, writer: Adrian Russell Wills
Raymond and Lorraine have it pretty sweet: a house, four kids, Raymond has been nominated for an award for his services to the community, and he's up for a promotion at work.
But then their world collapses when Lorraine is accused of benefit fraud. For the last six years she has claimed she is not in a full-time relationship, and has been claiming family allowance payments - and a full pension. Centrelink has a written statement from someone who has dobbed them in.
Lorraine faces serious consequences unless she agrees to repay $60,000. She's devastated and is now desperate to find work.
Raymond, however, consumed by the thought that someone has dobbed them in, starts to suspect everyone around him. His obsessive pursuit of the truth starts to destroy everything he's built: his friendships, his reputation, his marriage and job all come crashing down. And too late he realises the truth he was searching for is the very last thing he wants.
Episode 4: Stand Up
Director: Rachel Perkins, writer: Steven McGregor
Sixteen year old Joel Shields has just won an Indigenous scholarship to Clifton College - one of Sydney's most elite private schools. It's his first day and at assembly Joel's teacher notices he's not singing the national anthem. At home that night Joel is busy learning the words so he can join in. His father Eddie is troubled by this - he doesn't want his son to sing the anthem... or stand for it.
Joel is torn between the traditions of the school and his father's principles. He doesn't want to let his father down but Joel is starting to invest in the school. Mr Parish, the poetry teacher, has inspired him in a lesson about The Windhover and he's doing well. And the most beautiful girl he's ever seen is in his class.
When Joel continues to follow his father's wishes the situation escalates until Joel is threatened with expulsion. His mother Nic is desperate to find a solution and can't believe Eddie is risking their son's future. But Eddie won't budge and Joel has started to believe his father is right.
Much to his mother's despair Joel is expelled and the scholarship is awarded to another boy. But the next day one by one the remaining Aboriginal pupils refuse to stand and sing the anthem.
At the Tait's house, there's a knock on the door. It's the Principal and she's there to offer Joel his place back, but on his terms.
Episode 5: Sweet Spot
Director: Leah Purcell, writer: Jon Bell
Indigo is a professional boxer so he knows how to hit a man - how to land the perfect punch, find the sweet spot. It's why he's good in the ring and it's why he's just served a six-year sentence for killing a man in a street fight.
He's home now reconnecting with his wife Allie and his two kids, and things are getting back on an even keel as the family adjust to having him back after so long away. But a series of small incidents spark a jealous flame in Indigo - why does this guy Jumpy keep coming round to see Allie? Why does she know how many sugars Jumpy takes in his tea?
Keshen, Indigo's cousin, has found him a job on the building site where he works and he tries to hose Indigo down. But the green-eyed monster has got a hold of Indigo and things spiral out of control until Allie can take no more and throws him out. Wild with rage Indigo goes on the rampage after Jumpy, and Keshen has to step in to stop the fight. Indigo has Keshen pinned to the ground and his fist raised to strike. But in time he realises what he's doing and pulls back. It's a few months later and Indigo's leaving jail. He finally takes full responsibility for killing a man and in doing so has a real chance of getting his life back on track, but will Allie and the kids be there to meet him?
Episode 6: Pretty Boy Blue
Director: Rachel Perkins, writer: Steven McGregor
Aaron Davis is proud of his police uniform, proud of the community in which he works and very proud of his daughter Robyn and his 3 year old granddaughter Donna. Early morning, Aaron does his usual boxing training with local kids, he's had a good day despite some taunting from young troublemaker Lenny. He's finishing up back at the police station when Lenny is brought in all busted up and yelling abuse. He's been in a bad fight and Aaron is about to call for a doctor but stops when Lenny's taunting pushes him too far. From the cell Lenny calls out in pain but Aaron ignores him.
When the cries suddenly stop Aaron realises that something is terribly wrong. He rushes to help but it's too late - Lenny is dead. And so Aaron's nightmare begins.
As word of the death spreads Lenny's brother tries to cause trouble but the young fellas are held back, talked around by family and community. Lenny's mother, Aunty Mona, asks whether her boy suffered but Aaron lies.
When Lenny's family is shown the cell surveillance tapes Aaron has to find the courage to go and tell Aunty Mona the truth.
All seems lost, but as Aaron leaves her house, Robyn and Donna are waiting for him.
- Aaron McGrath - Joel Shields (ep. 4)
Alec Doomadgee - Wesley (ep. 1)
Dean Daley-Jones - Indigo (ep. 5)
Deborah Mailman - Lorraine (ep. 3)
Ewen Leslie - Mr Parish (ep. 4)
James Stanley - Tyler (ep. 1)
Kelton Pell - Raymond (ep. 3)
Leah Purcell - Grace (ep. 1)
Lisa Flanagan - Allie (ep. 5)
Marley Sharp - Eddie (ep. 4)
Rarriwuy Hick - Robyn (ep. 6)
Rhimi Jonhson Page - Danny (ep. 2)
Shareena Clanton - Lily (ep. 1)
Shari Sebbens - Julie (ep. 2)
Tessa Rose - Coral (ep. 2)
Ursula Yovich - Nic, Joel's mother (ep. 4)
Val Weldon - Maddi (ep. 1)
Wayne Blair - Aaron Davis (ep. 6)
- Release dates
- 2012 - Australia
- Video/DVD release date
- 12 December 2012
- ABC 1 (2-DVD set)
Redfern Now on ABC's website.
Redfern Now is the first series written, directed and produced by Aboriginal Australians.
Watch now or find a DVD/BlueRay copy
Disclosure: I might get commissions for purchases made through some of the links.
Browse a list of Aboriginal film suppliers and distributors
Other films by Leah Purcell & Catriona McKenzie & Rachel Perkins & Wayne Blair
- 1993Freedom Ride – Blood Brothers
- 2000The Third Note
- 2001Redfern Beach
- 2001One Night The Moon
- 2002Black Chicks Talking
- 2003Mr Patterns
- 2004The Djarn Djarns
- 2007The Circuit
- 2008First Australians
- 2009Aunty Maggie & The Womba Wakgun
- 2010Bran Nue Dae (Brand new day)
- 2012Satellite Boy
- 2012The Sapphires
- 2013The Gods of Wheat Street
- 2013Redfern Now (Series 2)
- 2014Who We Are: Brave New Clan
- 2014First Contact
- 2014Black Panther Woman
- 2015Promise Me
- 2015Septembers of Shiraz
- 2016First Contact (Season 2)
- 2016Cleverman Season 1
- 2017The Warriors
- 2017Wrong Kind of Black
- 2017Kiki and Kitty (Series 1)
- 2017Cleverman Season 2
- 2017Jasper Jones
- 2018Mystery Road (TV series, Season 1)
- 2019Will Australia Ever Have a Black Prime Minister?
- 2019Top End Wedding
- 2019Total Control (Series 1)
- 2020Mystery Road (TV series, Season 2)
- 2021The Drover’s Wife: The Legend of Molly Johnson
- 2021First Wars
- 2021Firestarter – The Story of Bangarra
- 2021Total Control (Series 2)
- 2022The Australian Wars
Use the Aboriginal film timeline to discover films you never heard of.
Take the quiz: Are you an Aboriginal movie buff?