'Even though it's a comedy, it treats the issues with respect': Abe Forsythe on his Cronulla riot comedy


How do you make a race riot funny? Abe Forsythe, writer, director and star of Down Under, discusses racism and black comedy with Marc Fennell.

"I think maybe we don't deal with something until we're forced to," said Forsythe.

He was in London in January of 2006, feeling homesick, when news of violence in the streets of Cronulla reached him. 

"So watching all of that through the media overseas was a bizarre feeling," he said. "Part of you is like, it's terrible we have a race riot, but look at the sun! I was surreal."

Ten years later, Forsythe found out he was going to be a father, and the knowledge made him question the world around him.

"This child had no choice that it was coming out into this world. That kind of led me to think about what happened in the riots," he said. "We weren't really discussing that. We swept it under the rug and pretended it didn't happen."

Aware of the backlash that was coming, the crew kept the movie quiet during filming, avoiding shooting in the Shire.

"We announced we were making this movie after we'd made it, because he felt like it was better to go under the radar.

"When you hear it's a movie about the Cronulla riots, people naturally go, 'oh, is it too soon?' And then you say, 'it's a comedy', and they go, 'woah!'

"So the next step is actually proving that even though it is a comedy, it's kind of treating the issue with respect."

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