Australia’s internationally acclaimed Back to Back Theatre, a professional theatre company with an ensemble of actors with disabilities at its core, is thrilled to announce that SHADOW, the company’s debut feature film will have its Australian premiere on June 15 at Sydney Film Festival. This follows the film’s International Premiere at SXSW earlier this year where SHADOW was awarded the SXSW Visions Audience Award.
SHADOW is directed by Bruce Gladwin, co-produced by Alice Fleming and Meret Hassanen, and co conceived and authored by Back to Back Theatre’s core performing artists Michael Chan, Mark Deans, Sarah Mainwaring, Scott Price, Simon Laherty and Sonia Teuben, together with Gladwin.
The film stars Back to Back’s professional ensemble, with Scott Price, Simon Laherty and Sarah Mainwaring in lead roles, playing a trio of disability activists who hold a public meeting, desperate to save the world. As the meeting unravels, they discover the greatest threat to their future is already in the room.
SHADOW is a darkly humorous 56-minute film based on Back to Back Theatre’s award-winning The Shadow Whose Prey The Hunter Becomes (2019), which was developed, in part, at the 2019 Sundance Theatre Lab at MASS MoCA, and was described by The New York Times as “an extraordinary play”. Provocative and challenging, it has created opportunities for people with disabilities both in front of the camera and behind the scenes.
Co-producer Alice Fleming said: “We are thrilled to have our Australian premiere of Shadow at the Sydney Film Festival. After our debut at SXSW, and winning an audience award, we are now even more excited to share the work with Australian audiences. It continues to provide evidence that audiences and programmers are looking for more inclusive storytelling teams.”
Actor and co-writer Scott Price said, “Shadow is a story that needs to be told, it’s about Artificial Intelligence and disability activism. The fact that it is premiering at festivals such as SXSW and now Sydney Film Festival shows that it is a beautiful piece of work, and the importance of telling stories from perspective of people with disabilities.”
Director Bruce Gladwin said: “Shadow uses a combination of dramatic and documentary-style elements to tell the story of a group of activists who hold a public meeting only to discover their own prejudices are their biggest obstacles to saving the world. Thematically, we wanted to understand individual and collective responsibility and question how we come together to make decisions that are in the best interests of society.
As artists we are seeking alternative models of story creation and screen production. Created over two and a half years through conversation and improvisation, the performers are also the co-authors, 95% of the people on screen are people with disabilities, and the majority of the crew roles are fulfilled by interns who identify as people with disabilities supported by professional mentors. The narrative thematic and the film’s philosophical approach to the process of creation are intrinsically linked. This is community filmmaking. “
About Back to Back Theatre
Over the last thirty years, Back to Back Theatre has made a body of work that questions the assumptions of what is possible in theatre, but also the assumptions we hold about ourselves and others. As an ongoing dialogue with our audience, each new project is an investigation seeking answers to questions raised in previous works. Our attention lies with design, light, and sound. The stories we pursue weave the personal, the political and the cosmic. We work to curiosity and interest in the live moment, to what sits within and between. Seeking to make a body of work that exists in repertoire across time, the company tours extensively locally, nationally and internationally to the world’s leading festivals and cultural institutions. In March this year, Back to Back Theatre was announced as the 2022 recipient of the International Ibsen Award, the world’s greatest theatre prize. Back to Back Theatre is based in Geelong, Australia.
A Back to Back Pictures Production, SHADOW was filmed on location in and around Geelong in December 2020. It is jointly funded by the Australian Government Department of Social Services, the City of Greater Geelong Arts & Culture Department’s Arts Industry Commissions Program and supported by Screen Australia through the COVID-19 Budget Support Fund Program,
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