As Australia prepares for next month’s marriage equality postal vote, the ABC has announced it’s going back to where it all began.
Filming has begun on telemovie, titled Riot, which will explore the gay rights movement in 1970s Australia and the lives of the Australians who fought for homosexual decriminalisation, recognition and equality.
The script is centred on civil rights activist Lance Gowland, who was involved in Sydney’s first gay rights organisation CAMP (Campaign Against Moral Persecution) NSW, and the protest in Sydney on June 24, 1978 that gave birth to what is now known as Mardi Gras.
That night, hundreds of protesters marched down Oxford Street, calling for the decriminalisation of homosexual acts, demanding equality before the law and respect from the community.
Fifty-three of the protesters – now known as the 78ers – were arrested and many more were assaulted by police. They subsequently suffered public shaming by police, government and the media.
“At a time when the struggle for LGBTQ rights is far from over, it was a privilege to explore the lives of pioneering activists who sacrificed so much to drag Australia towards equality,” writer Greg Waters said.
Directed by Jeffrey Walker, Riot‘s cast includes Damon Herriman as Gowland, Xavier Samuel as Jim Walker, Kate Box as Margaret McMann and Jessica de Gouw as Robyn Plaister (all pictured, below).
The telemovie is being filmed in Sydney over the next four weeks and will debut on the ABC in 2018.
The ABC’s head of scripted production Sally Riley said the telemovie would arrive in time for the 40th anniversary of the birth of Mardi Gras next year.
“It could never be more relevant than now to tell this story of identity, courage and love as a marginalised community finds its voice and rises up to fight oppression and injustice,” she said.
“With a cast as extraordinary as this, Riot promises to be a stirring, landmark television event.”
(Top photo by Jeffrey Feng/Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras)