Jackie Keast, 11 February, 2021
ABC Commercial has inked a pre-sale of Wayne Blair and Nel Minchin’s documentary Firestarter: The Story of Bangarra to Swedish public broadcaster SVT, for the SVT2 and SVT Play platforms.
Produced by Ivan O’Mahoney for In Films, Firestarter takes audiences through the history of Sydney’s Bangarra Dance Theatre, telling the story of how three young Aboriginal brothers — Stephen, David and Russell Page — turned the newly born dance group into a First Nations cultural powerhouse. But as the story reveals, the company’s international success came at a huge personal cost.
ABC Commercial head of content sales and distribution Jessica Ellis said: “We are incredibly proud to be partnering with SVT on this exceptional documentary. The interest surrounding the program prior to its distribution launch at Avant Première has been phenomenal. Audiences from film festival screenings have embraced and celebrated this stunning addition to ABC Commercial’s Arts slate”.
Here in Australia, Firestarter will be released theatrically via Icon Films February 18, and will air on the ABC mid-year. The film has already notched a series of awards, including Best Documentary at last year’s AACTAs, and Best Documentary and the inaugural Change Award at the 2020 Adelaide Film Festival.
Firestarter will have its international theatrical premiere on February 28 2021 at The Pan African Film + Arts Festival in Los Angeles, and will premiere on SVT2 in mid-2021.
O’Mahoney said: “Bangarra Dance Theatre is one of Australia’s best loved performing arts companies, with a huge following overseas, especially in North America and Europe. Bangarra tell vital stories – both ancient and modern – of Indigenous Australia in an accessible, beautiful, way. It has been a privilege to make the film.”