It’s difficult to recall the last time an upcoming Australian television show inspired genuine excitement, but Cleverman, the upcoming dystopian sci-fi series is already lit by flashing sign that reads “must-see TV”.
US giants agreed, as last year the Australian/New-Zealand genre project attracted backing from SundanceTV, the premium channel partly responsible for Jane Campion’s Top of the Lake.
Here’s the gist:
A near future world of chaos and menace - a world where those tied to an ancient mythology are not only considered subhuman but are sent to fortified camps by the exploitative ‘humans’ in power— forces two estranged Indigenous brothers back together, all in the name of survival.
And here's a taste:
Even without the unending possibilities created by the idea’s underlying themes, the above set-up sounds new and cinematic and Australia-fresh. But when you add the weight of Indigenous history and present sentiments to the mix, Cleverman promises to be nothing if not a breathtaking display of ambition.
Showrunner Ryan Griffen, along with lead director Wayne Blair and a cast comprised of 80 percent Indigenous actors (including Deborah Mailman), promises to “put 60,000 years of old [dreaming] stories in a modern context, and keep them rooted in culture”.
Could this be the first Aussie show that keeps you on the edge of your seat, while simultaneously making you question where you’re sitting?
We’ll see what festival-goers think when it premieres at the Berlin International Film Festival (and when it eventually lands on the ABC later this year).