How The Media Industry Can Help Tackle Racial Discrimination In Australia – B&T

In this guest post, UnLtd reveals what it learned when it reached out to its charity partners working directly with Indigenous and other racially diverse groups of young Australians, and discusses how the industry can fight racial injustice…

Our role at UnLtd is to give our industry the power to help. To use our talent, resources and influence for good.

When the protests against racial injustice started, many of you reached out to us to ask ‘how can we help?’. It was clear that so many feel strongly and passionately about fighting racism here in Australia but many people don’t know where to start and how to help.

To help educate ourselves and our industry, we reached out to some of our charity partners working directly with First Nations communities, refugees and other culturally diverse groups, to get their views on what the key challenges are and what we can do collectively as an industry and as individuals to help fight racial injustice in Australia.

These are people who deal with the impacts of racial injustice every day and who have dedicated their lives to give every young Australian a brighter future, no matter what their background, culture or colour of their skin.

This is what we learnt.

The challenge

The first step is acknowledging the issue. Acknowledging that white privilege and systemic racism exists in Australia.

Dr Cath Keenan AM, co-founder and executive director of Story Factory said: “Racist attitudes and behaviours have been built into social structures and institutional practices over generations, and are internalised by individuals, then perpetuated indefinitely. To overcome this we all need to constantly call it out where we see it, challenging the status quo and opening everyone’s eyes to the day-to-day realities and crippling impacts of racism for all those it undermines and victimises.”

Sasha Lawrence, Acting CEO, Reach added it was time to unlearn to re-learn: “Just because you don’t say something racist doesn’t mean there isn’t a prevalence of racism. We need to unlearn what we know about racism, re-learn and learn about what anti-racism is about.”

The other key issue is diversity, having true diversity across our organisations and communities, to represent the real multi-cultural Australia. Sasha added: “Right now, most executive rooms, leadership teams, positions of power and the people we see on TV screens, do not reflect the diversity that exists in Australia. We need true representation in all industries so that young people of colour and diverse cultural backgrounds can look up and feel like it’s possible for them to achieve. Achieving representation will enable all young people to feel like they can achieve, irrespective of the colour of your skin.”

The one thing that stood out most in all the responses was the importance of education. Educating ourselves but also improving the educational outcomes of our First Nations communities. The importance of all Australians to understand the truth about colonisation and its lasting impacts and the intergenerational trauma caused.

Dr Rose Whitau from Shooting Stars said: “I would love for all Australians to understand the context and history of racial injustice in Australia. For Australians to understand not just the enduring ramifications of European colonisation, but to appreciate the innovation and diversity of peoples who have lived in Australia for 65,000 years; peoples who undertook humanity’s first major maritime voyage, invented edge ground axe technology, bread, and aquaculture.”

Karen Williams, CEO of the Indigenous Literacy Foundation added: “Focus on the positive stories; stories about how strong the culture is; how talented the children are, speaking 3-4 languages before school; and how complex Indigenous culture is; how rich their art, music and literature is; and how strong our First Nations people’s connection to country is.”

Tackling the issue at a young age is also key, both from educating children at an early age, so our children grow up understanding the history of our First Nations people, but also understanding the long-lasting impacts racism can have.

Lawrence explained: “It’s important for Australians to understand that it begins at a very young age. Young people who are Indigenous are at a significant disadvantage in Australia. We see this in suicide rates, disengagement from school and also how many young people enter in and out of the justice system. Young people who are Indigenous, of colour or of diverse cultural background exert considerable energy trying not to be different, or experience covert racism daily. Things like “you don’t look Aboriginal” or “how come you have an English name” can cause considerable harm to the identity of a young person. Adolescence is complicated enough without needing to overcome barriers to race and identity.”

What can the media, marketing & creative industry do to help fight racial injustice in Australia?

Our industry holds incredible power to educate, change attitudes and amplify voices that need to be heard. There are several ways our industry can play a role in fighting racial injustice.

Dr Cath Keenan says the first thing is to “recognise the harm done by perpetuating old, poisonous racist stereotypes. It’s important to pass all content through this filter and expunge anything that does not come up to scratch”.

The second is around true diversity, by changing the face of our industry. Hang Vo, CEO of Whitelion said:

“The mainstream media, advertising and marketing is almost exclusively represented by white Anglo Australians. This is not representative of multicultural Australia. What we see, read and hear in TV, magazines, adverts, should be a reflection of the diversity that exists in our society.”

Providing balanced reporting was highlighted as another key area to tackle. Sharing honest stories about the issues and struggles but also sharing the positive stories of First Australians, other culturally diverse groups  and the many organisations doing great work to help fight racial injustice.

Williams said: “Play an active role on educating (and even entertaining) people by focussing on the positive stories; capture the gold – how lucky we are to be able to learn from the oldest living civilisation on our planet.”

Finally, calling out and speaking up on racism in the media. Vo said: “Speak up, don’t be a bystander and conform to powerful shock jocks and media moguls.”

What can an individual do to help?

It all starts with education. Keenan explained: “Educate yourself. Read, watch, listen and absorb everything you can being shared by Indigenous Australians right now. They’ve been generous enough to articulate their own personal experience and opinions at a difficult time. The least you can do is show some respect and hear what they’re saying. Open your mind to learning about how life in Australia looks – and feels – to someone who is Indigenous. Be willing to get out of your comfort zone and really understand how different that is to your own experience. Then be humble – and strong – enough to accept what you have got wrong up till now, and what you are going to have to change. Do it.”

Lawrence said it was important to extend our knowledge of Aboriginal history: “Books like Dark Emu enrich our history and paint a very different picture of what colonisation did to Australia. There are so many resources out there for people to learn. One of our favourites has been from the Children’s Community School who have mapped out how race informs a child’s development.”

And go beyond the books for your education. Vo suggests to expand your network of colleagues and friends: “Make it your mission to get to know someone of a different racial background.”

It’s also important to start conversations with colleagues, family and friends about racism and what can be done to stop it. Lawrence said: “We actually need to talk about race in Australia. It’s not meant to be comfortable. It should be uncomfortable. But these conversations are critical to shifting hearts and minds and calling out unconscious bias. We are particularly mindful not to rely on people of colour to facilitate these conversations and carry the burden for others.”

We all have the power to show kindness and speak up when we see inappropriate behaviour or comments. Call it out when people make racial slurs or jokes.

Finally, a practical way to help is to support First Nations businesses and the many organisations that are helping to tackle racial injustice and close the gap.

Here are some ways you can directly support through some of UnLtd’s charity partners:

  • Mentor an Indigenous child through volunteering or donating to The Pyjama Foundation
  • Invest in improving young Indigenous girls educational outcomes by supporting Shooting Stars
  • Help Indigenous and refugee children build their confidence and share their stories with the world by donating to Story Factory
  • Purchase books or donate to Indigenous Literacy Foundation to support their work to publish books in First Languages, written and translated by children and community members in remote Australia
  • Support young Indigenous people through mentoring and skills workshops through Reach and Whitelion

‘Stateless’ on Netflix: Does refugee crisis need a white face? – Los Angeles Times

Debates over immigration and national identity dominate the political discourse in the Trump-era United States, but many Americans may be unaware that Australia has grappled with similar issues for decades.

That’s about to change with the debut of “Stateless,” a Netflix series co-created by Cate Blanchett that dives into her home country’s treatment of refugees and asylum seekers.

The drama is set during the mid-aughts, as wars in Iraq and Afghanistan sent thousands fleeing to other countries, including Australia, with the hopes of beginning a new life. The six-part series follows the unusual journey of Sofie (Yvonne Strahovski), an Australian flight attendant who gets involved in a cult, suffers a breakdown and mistakenly winds up in an immigration detention center, where she claims to be a German tourist who overstayed her visa.

At the center — in a parched, economically depressed corner of South Australia — she is held along with hundreds of so-called UNCs (or unlawful noncitizens). These refugees include Ameer (Fayssal Bazzi), an Afghan man hoping to reunite with his family after a traumatic separation. Outfitted in a silver wig and sequins gowns, Blanchett has a small role as Pat, the singing-and-dancing wife of a charismatic cult leader played by Dominic West.

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Anita Afshar, Setareh Naghoni, Amiralia Kianifar and Phoenix Raei in “Stateless.”

(Netflix)

As implausible as it may seem, Sofie’s story is partially inspired by the case of Cornelia Rau, a white Australian woman who was held in an onshore detention center for several months and helped bring attention to the country’s severe immigration policies.

Blanchett created the series with Tony Ayres and Elise McCredie. Though “Stateless” deals with subjects that remain deeply polarizing in the U.S. and Australia — and are explored in greater depth in an accompanying podcast called “Post Play: Stateless” — Blanchett insists the series is “not a piece of agitprop.”

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“It’s human drama. It’s not just delivering some political message. It’s asking more questions than it answers,” says the two-time Oscar winner, who was also an executive producer on this spring’s politically charged miniseries, “Mrs. America.”

Blanchett and Ayres recently spoke via Zoom about the series and the difficult themes it explores.

What made you want to get involved behind the scenes on this series? Is producing satisfying in a way that performing isn’t?

Blanchett: The producers I truly admire are infinitely inventive. Some of them also happen to be performers or directors, as these skill sets are often interlinked. For me, it’s about balancing the pragmatic with the creative. Sometimes I am compelled to be involved in a project but know that to shoehorn myself artificially as an actor into that project would capsize or pervert the material. Then also knowing that if one is not in it, that certain financiers may not be willing to take a risk on the material. Some of the most fulfilling creative experiences I’ve had, the most fascinating conversations, have been in and around facilitating the work of others. It’s never been about what role I play, more the quality of the conversation.

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The idea for this series originated with a kitchen-table conversation back in 2013. Can you tell me about that?

Blanchett: We were thinking about telling stories that were elephants in the room, so to speak — those stories that everybody needed to talk about. Drama is the most inclusive way to have those conversations. It’s the space for long-form empathetic examinations of quite complicated and confronting stories in any culture. Australia’s treatment of refugees over the last 20 years was one of those subjects that wasn’t being discussed. So we all wanted to find a way we could bring it back into the national conversation in a nonfear-based, inclusive way.

Can you talk about the inspiration for this series and how you decided on setting it in the recent past — rather than the present day?

Ayres: We decided that the best period to tell our story was looking at when Australia still had on-shore detention so that we could understand the current iteration. There were stories of Australian citizens that had been mistakenly put in detention, there were stories of people breaking out of detention, there were stories of Australian citizens who were standing up for refugees, and there were a lot of stories of trauma.

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Blanchett: It took a long time to find partners who were brave enough to look at the human drama behind the obviously political patina. For us, it was almost too hot and polarizing and political to deal with what is still an ongoing situation in Australia and globally. So we decided to set it slightly back in time, almost as a prequel to offshore detention, when refugees were processed onshore, so that we could reverse-engineer how we’ve got here. There’s so much about Australia that I am deeply proud of. So many of our cultural and scientific and athletic exports. But it’s been a great source of shame for me to hear the rhetoric around the building of the wall, the rhetoric around Brexit. The DNA of that is absolutely born inside of Australia. This has massive international relevance and resonance. We need to sort that out in our own country, but that language has absolutely been exported overseas.

Cate Blanchett as Pat Masters in “Stateless.”

(Courtesy of Netflix)

Why make Sofie one of the central characters? As a white Australian, she is not representative of the people who end up in detention.

Blanchett: I had been inspired by my work as a goodwill ambassador for the [U.N. High Commission for Refugees] to shine a light on the human stories. Whenever I went on a mission with UNHCR, I would speak to mothers, to daughters, to sisters. The profound takeaway I had is that this could be me in different circumstances. That was something we carried into the DNA of the series.

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We wanted to find a window for people who hadn’t had interface with the refugee experience, to ask themselves, “What if it was my sister? What if it was me, what if it was my daughter who fell through the cracks as our character Sophie did in the mental health system, the judicial system and the immigration system and ended up by complete mistake inside one of these detention centers?” We felt like we could only create that through a middle-class, white Australian character. That was very deliberate.

Ayres: The choice to enter the story with a white Australian woman was a form of Trojan horse. It was strategic: Who can we give to an audience that they can connect to? I think that Yvonne in particular is so extraordinarily empathetic in her performance. She brings us into the story, but then we hopefully will experience other people’s dramas within that, and the dramas of people who are not white.

Soraya Heidari, Saajeda Samaa, Ilaha Rahemi and Fayssal Bazzi in “Stateless.”

(Netflix)

How did you develop the cult storyline and the character of Pat?

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Blanchett: I was happy to be involved as an actor in any way that would help the material, and Elise came up with the character where I got to sing and dance. The show is a lot about identity and what happens to the identity of citizens when they are separated from their humanity. Cult Behavior 101 is you separate yourself from your family, from your past, and your future is reinvented. It’s all about being a new you, a better you, a you that is separate from anything that you did in the past. That was kind of a metaphor to what we saw happening in Australia.

When Tony and Elise and I grew up, “Brand Australia” was built on multiculturalism [and] the welcoming embrace of refugees and asylum seekers. And we saw that atrophy and calcify and we use that metaphor of the cult to speak to that story.

Ayres: For us, the idea of a cult where you are made all these promises of what you could be felt a little bit like the experience for the refugees — the promise of what Australia was, that you could escape the past, all of those things. It’s not a direct parallel, but those two stories resonated against each other for us.

How conscious were you of trying to draw parallels between the situation in Australia and similar issues in the U.S. and Europe?

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Blanchett: We’ve always been of the belief that if you make something deeply specific and true and accurate and well-researched, that it will have universal resonance. And that’s what we hoped the story would achieve. The only way to battle the pandemic is globally and yet we’re still laboring under this rhetoric of nation-building and how each country should deal with it in their own, individual way, but that’s not going to solve the problem. The global displacement crisis is not going to be solved by any one country, nor is climate change, nor is the pandemic.

Ayres: In Australia, we compare how we’re dealing with the pandemic to the charts we’re seeing from America. That’s the problem — when it’s not a global issue.

‘Stateless’

Where: Netflix

When: Any time

Rating: TV-MA (may be unsuitable for children under the age of 17)

Global Bulletin: HBO Europe Greenlights Spanish Anthology Series ‘Escenario 0’ – Variety

Standout Spanish cinema actors Irene Escolar (“Official Competition,” “Tell Me Who I Am”) and Bárbara Lennie (“Everybody Knows,” “Magical Girl”) have teamed on a new anthology series commissioned by HBO España and produced by Calle Cruzada.

Created and executive produced by the pair (pictured), who will also perform in the show, “Escenario 0” features six episodes from prominent writers and filmmakers. A unique project that will mix different disciplines to create an exceptional fusion between the performing and audiovisual arts.

“Escanario 0” is the latest example of HBO Europe looking to tap Spanish talent for its HBO Spain original programming. Previous series include Isabel Coixet’s “Foodie Love” and Álex de la Iglesia’s “30 Coins,” as well as the much-anticipated series adaptation of best-selling novel “Patria,” and recently announced comedy series “Por H o por B.”

Keshet International’s “The Hit List” Keshet International

COMMISSION

Keshet has closed a deal for a Dutch remake of the popular musical quiz program “The Hit List,” commissioned by public broadcaster NPO to be produced locally by Vincent TV.

Originally produced by Tuesday’s Child, the series was recently re-commissioned for a third season at BBC One in the U.K. where season two was a hit, scoring a 20% audience share. It also recently premiered on MTV in Finland, earning the top spot among commercial channels that night.

In each episode, three teams of two participate in multiple rounds of music trivia, where breadth of knowledge is key and multi-generational pairings are encouraged. “The Hit List” is distributed globally by Keshet International on behalf of Tuesday’s Child.

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UKTV has bolstered the lineup of its crime drama channel Alibi with the commissioning of new six-part series “The Diplomat,” its third original for the channel, from writer Ben Richards and producer World Productions (“Bodyguard,” “Line of Duty”) with UKTV and BBC Studios.

Set in and around the British Consul in Barcelona, the series follows ex-pat Laura Simmonds and her colleague and friend Alba Ortiz as they advocate for British nationals who run into trouble while in the Catalan capital, starting with the unexplained death of a young British bartender.

A UKTV Original, the series was commissioned by Philippa Collie Cousins and ordered by Alibi channel director Emma Ayech. Simon Heath will executive produce for World Productions, Collie Cousins for UKTV and Martin Rakusen for BBC Studios.

MULTI-SERIES DEAL

Entertainment One (eOne) has secured a multi-year licensing partnership with Florida-based Hispanic TV and media company Olympusat for more than 200 hours of catalog content to be made available on the latter’s Latin American AVOD service FreeTV, launched in May.

FreeTV content includes a wide array of multicultural productions from around the world, including between 800 and 1,000 hours per month dubbed in Spanish and 200 hours of content from Mexico, Spain and the rest of Latin America.

New programming from eOne includes popular series such as Thandie Newton-starrer “Rogue,” genre programs “Bitten,” “Haven,” “The Enfield Haunting,” “Saving Hope” and “Matador,” and historical drama “Turn: Washington’s Spies.” Each has been dubbed in Spanish.

Norwegian police procedural “For Life” NENT

PRE-SALES

Nordic Entertainment Group (NENT) has closed first pre-sales on its new Norwegian police procedural “For Life,” recently brought onto the international market. In France, Canal Plus will broadcast the series on its Polar+ detective series channel, while SBS in Australia and Pro Plus in Slovenia also closed deals on the program.

“For Life” is created and written by International Emmy winner Gjermund S. Eriksen (“Mammon,” “Aber Bergen”) and is co-written by Helena Nielsen (“Lilyhammer,” “Aber Bergen”). NENT company Monster produces for Norwegian broadcaster NRK with backing from the Norwegian Film Institute.

A multi-timeline series, “For Life” unspools in the present as National Crime Service investigator Victoria Woll solves cases, and in the future, where she herself is in prison. Each episode will feature one of Woll’s cases and provide bits of the backstory which landed her behind bars.

“For Life” will premiere on NRK Sept. 6.

PROMOTION

AT&T’s WarnerMedia has announced the promotion of Whit Richardson from president of Turner Latin America to president of WarnerMedia Entertainment Networks, Latin America, effective Aug. 1. He will continue to work out of the company’s offices in Atlanta and report to Gerhard Zeiler, chief revenue officer, WarnerMedia and president of WarnerMedia International Networks.

In the new role, Richardson will oversee programming, ad sales, distribution and operations for WarnerMedia Entertainment Networks, including Turner channels, Cinemax, HBO and sports networks across the region. He will share responsibility for kids programming in Latin America with Tom Ascheim, newly announced president of global kids, young adults and classics at Warner Bros.

Cairns projects share in arts funding 8 July – Mirage News

Stories of migration, child slavery and multiculturalism from the Cairns community will be brought to life via music, theatre, screen and literature in projects funded by the Cairns Regional Arts Development Fund Program.

For the first time, Cairns Regional Council has awarded a major ‘City of the Arts Hero Project’ grant of $25,000 in 2020, which went to Jute Theatre for a proposal to celebrate the Cairns region’s Italian legacy in a theatre and music project called La Bella Figura.

This large-scale new theatrical work will be developed in consultation with the Cairns Italian community and involves music, photography, and a creative team made up of some of most highly respected professionals in our region.

The project is also supported by the Queensland Music Festival and will be part of their program in 2021.

Eight arts projects in the Cairns region will also share in $62,078 in funding under Major Round Two of the RADF 2019/20 grants, which includes the creation of an interactive Kid’s Audio Trail by Cairns Museum and a series of performing arts workshops.

Amber Grossman and Hayley Gillespie will deliver the Young Creatives Mentorship Program – a series of performing arts skills development workshops culminating in a multi-media performance for six selected students at Bulmba-ja arts centre in late 2020.

Mayor Bob Manning said the latest round of funding would assist a broad range of creative projects ranging from performing arts, short film and multi-media projects, to the creation of literature and the exhibition of a significant collection.

“Hundreds of local projects have been assisted over the years by RADF grants, which deliver positive outcomes for communities across the region,” Cr Manning said.

“In 2020 lots of people have realised just how important the arts are in their lives.

“When COVID-19 shut down the country, many of us turned to the television, music and books. The cancellation of festivals, events and performances was a blow for artists and the community.

“Cairns has great depth of talent in our artistic and creative community. These successful RADF projects represent a chance for our creative community to share their ideas, works and skills again.”

The latest round of funding will deliver a range of creative opportunities and events to the community, including an exhibition showcasing the works and migration stories of Indigenous and non-Indigenous artists who worked for Cairns-based souvenir company Reef Productions.

The grants will also assist the Cairns and District Family History Society with their project Herstory, History – the research and writing of 40 engaging short stories based around the lives of past pioneers of the Cairns Region.

Minister for the Arts Leeanne Enoch said the Palaszczuk Government is proud to continue its RADF partnership with local governments with an investment of $2.08 million, through Arts Queensland, for the 2019-20 fund.

“This investment will support the delivery of hundreds of arts experiences and professional development opportunities across the state,” Ms Enoch said.

“Projects funded through RADF provide pathways for learning, contribute to the creation of jobs, foster creativity and boost cultural tourism.”

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