Redfern Now (Series 1)

Synopsis

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

Episodes

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.

Details

Cast
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)
Jimi Bani
Kelton Pell - Raymond (ep. 3)
Leah Purcell - Grace (ep. 1)
Lisa Flanagan - Allie (ep. 5)
Marley Sharp - Eddie (ep. 4)
Miranda Tapsell
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
Distributor
ABC 1 (2-DVD set)
Notes

Redfern Now on ABC’s website.

Redfern Now is the first series written, directed and produced by Aboriginal Australians.

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www.CreativeSpirits.info, Movies - Redfern Now (Series 1), retrieved 18 December 2018