‘Black Bitch’ (Photo credit: John Platt).
The first two episodes of Blackfella Films’ ABC political drama Black Bitch will have their world premiere in the Primetime program at the Toronto International Film Festival.
Directed by Rachel Perkins and starring Rachel Griffiths as Australia’s embattled Prime Minister Rachel Anderson and Deborah Mailman as her rival Alex Irving, it’s one of six series from around the world in the line-up.
Perkins said: “News of our acceptance into Toronto, particularly given our series is one of the few chosen from the world, is a high point and a huge relief. Screening at Toronto is also special on a very personal level. It marks the 20th year of my collaboration with Deborah Mailman.
“My career has been built around her prodigious talent and I look forward to following our leading lady onto the red carpet.”
Among the other world premieres will be HBO’s Mrs. Fletcher, which stars Kathryn Hahn as a single mother who rediscovers her sexuality after her son heads off to college; USA Network’s Briarpatch, which follows Rosario Dawson as a Washington political fixer who returns to her hometown to unravel the mystery surrounding her sister’s death; and Facebook Watch’s Limetown, based on the crime podcast with Jessica Biel as an American Public Radio host and journalist who obsesses over a mysterious case involving a mass disappearance.
The other selections are French drama Savages, about an Arabic candidate for the France presidency; and the Czech Republic’s The Sleepers, which follows a woman (Táňa Pauhofová) and her political dissident husband after they flee 1977 communist Czechoslovakia.
Blackfella Films’ Darren Dale and Miranda Dear are the producers and co-creators of Black Bitch with Griffiths. The six-part series is scripted by Pip Karmel, Angela Betzien and Stuart Page as script producer/writer.
The festival’s synopsis reads: “A local Indigenous politician (Deborah Mailman) is recruited to the senate by the Australian Prime Minister (Rachel Griffiths) after a contentious video goes viral, in Rachel Perkins’ drama about systemic injustice and the complexities of political change.”
The supporting cast includes Poldark’s Harry Richardson as Alex’s chief of staff with William McInnes as the Opposition Leader, Anthony Hayes as a conservative Minister, Celia Ireland as Alex’s office manager, Aaron Pedersen as a previous love interest of Alex and Rob Collins as her brother. Newcomer Shantae Barnes Cowan plays an Indigenous teenager who escapes from a detention centre.
Each screening in the Primetime sidebar will be followed by an on stage Q&A with members of the creative team. The 44th annual Toronto Film Festival runs September 5–15.
Here’s the full Primetime line-up:
Black Bitch | Australia, 2 episodes
Creators: Darren Dale, Rachel Griffiths, Miranda Dear
Director: Rachel Perkins
Briarpatch | USA, 2 episodes
Creator: Andy Greenwald
Directors: Ana Lily Amirpour, Steven Piet
Limetown | USA, 2 episodes
Creators: Zack Akers, Skip Bronkie
Director: Rebecca Thomas
Mrs. Fletcher | USA, 3 episodes
Creator: Tom Perrotta
Directors: Nicole Holofcener, Liesl Tommy
Savages (Les Sauvages) | France, 2 episodes
Creators: Rebecca Zlotowski, Sabri Louatah
Director: Rebecca Zlotowski
The Sleepers (Bez vědomí) | Czech Republic, 2 episodes
Creators: Ivan Zachariáš, Ondrej Gabriel
Director: Ivan Zachariáš