• Grace Beside Me launch. (NITV News)Source: NITV News
The regional town of Beaudesert doesn't often host television premieres, but last night the community rolled out the red carpet for the launch of groundbreaking children's series, Grace Beside Me.
By
Ella Archibald-Binge

Source:
NITV News
8 Feb 2018 - 4:53 PM  UPDATED 8 Feb 2018 - 4:53 PM

Smoke wafts across the footpath in the main street of Beaudesert, an hour south of Brisbane, as Uncle Bevan Page conducts a smoking ceremony to welcome excited guests to an extraordinary local event. 

Last year, Queensland's Scenic Rim was transformed into the film set for NITV's new 13-part children's drama, Grace Beside Me, so it seemed only fitting that the regional community would host the show's national premiere.

The foyer of the local exhibition centre is buzzing as the show's star, 13-year-old Kyliric Masella, struts the red carpet in front of the cameras for the first time in her life, flanked by a young cast from a range of diverse backgrounds. 

"It's a good feeling," she tells NITV News, when asked what it's like to receive the celebrity treatment. 

"It’s pretty surreal, like we don’t really feel like this is actually happening."

Making its television debut on NITV next week, Grace Beside Me follows the adventures of Fuzzy Mac - an Indigenous teenager with a gift for seeing ghosts. Based on the novel by Sue McPherson, who also attended the premiere, the series provides a window into First Nations culture in a way that's fun and accessible to all audiences.

Local Mununjali Elders were closely involved in the production, whether scouting locations, weaving Aboriginal language into the script, or even starring as extras during filming.

Uncle Bevan Page says the experience has shone a spotlight on the community.

"It's bringing a little bit of publicity to the town itself," he says.

"I think all the Beaudesert people that were here for ages are very proud of what’s happened here in Beaudesert, the Aboriginal and the white community too."

Local Elders are particularly excited to see their language feature in a national television show. 

"I think it’s gonna make the Mununjali people happy and proud of their language and their culture, and show them that their language isn’t gone," says Aunty Levina Page. 

For Uncle Bevan, it's a chance to preserve language forever.

"When we grew up with our grandparents, they weren’t allowed to teach us their language. So now that we’ve got the opportunity, we’re teaching our children – so that way it’s never gonna fade away," he says. 

NITV Channel Manager Tanya Orman described the launch as a "dream come true".

"For thousands of years, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders have used art in many forms to tell our stories," she told the packed auditorium.

"Our stories are full of cultural information about the land, about our history and about our future.

"We convey this important information, important for our survival, through painting and drawing, oral stories, song, dance and now – teenage drama."

Grace Beside Me premieres at 7.30pm February 16 on NITV, and will also be available at SBS On Demand.