Back to Back Theatre’s Shadow will have its Australian premiere at Sydney Film Festival

Simon Laherty in Shadow.

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Australia’s internationally acclaimed Back to Back Theatre, a professional theatre company with an ensemble of actors with disabilities at its core, is thrilled to announce that Shadow, the company’s debut feature film will have its Australian Premiere at Sydney Film Festival on June 15. This follows the film’s International Premiere at SXSW earlier this year where SHADOW was awarded the SXSW Visions Audience Award.

SHADOW is directed by Bruce Gladwin, produced by Alice Fleming and Meret Hassanen, and co-conceived and co-authored by Back to Back Theatre’s core performing artists Michael Chan, Mark Deans, Sarah Mainwaring, Scott Price, Simon Laherty and Sonia Teuben, together with Gladwin. Filmed on location in and around Geelong in December 2020, Shadow ambitiously builds upon the success of Back to Back’s debut short film, ODDLANDS, creating a feature film that is provocative and challenging, and opportunities for people with disabilities both in front of the camera and behind the scenes.

A Back to Back Pictures Production, Shadow is a darkly humorous 56-minute film based on Back to Back Theatre’s award-winning The Shadow Whose Prey The Hunter Becomes (2019), which was developed, in part, at the 2019 Sundance Theatre Lab at MASS MoCA, and was described by The New York Times as “an extraordinary play”.


Jointly funded by the Australian Government Department of Social Services, the City of Greater Geelong Arts & Culture Department’s Arts Industry Commissions Program and supported by Screen Australia through the COVID-19 Budget Support Fund Program, Shadow stars Back to Back’s professional ensemble, with Scott Price, Simon Laherty and Sarah Mainwaring in lead roles, playing a trio of disability activists who hold a public meeting, desperate to save the world. As the meeting unravels, they discover the greatest threat to their future is already in the room.

“Shadow uses a combination of dramatic and documentary-style elements to tell the story of a group of activists who hold a public meeting only to discover their own prejudices are their biggest obstacles to saving the world,” said director Bruce Gladwin. “Thematically, we wanted to understand individual and collective responsibility and question how we come together to make decisions that are in the best interests of society.

As artists we are seeking alternative models of story creation and screen production. Created over two and a half years through conversation and improvisation, the performers are also the co-authors, 95% of the people on screen are people with disabilities, and the majority of the crew roles are fulfilled by interns who identify as people with disabilities supported by professional mentors. The narrative thematic and the film’s philosophical approach to the process of creation are intrinsically linked. This is community filmmaking.”

Shadow Sydney Film Festival screenings details here.

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