Set in the near future, Cleverman is a startlingly original drama rooted in Aboriginal mythology. The series depicts a deeply conflicted and anxious society, fearful of a minority group, endowed with extraordinary physical traits, living among them.
One young man — The Cleverman — struggles with his own power and the responsibility to unite this divided world, but he must first overcome a deep estrangement with his older brother. The series is based on an original concept by Ryan Griffen, and will launch in the United States on SundanceTV on 1 June and in Australia on ABC and ABC iview on 2 June.
(L-R) Jarrod Slade (Iain Glen), Koen West (Hunter Page-Lochard) and Waruu West (Rob Collins) Image: Lisa Tomasetti
"I have a huge love of superheroes and comics. It got me thinking about creating something cultural that my young son could connect to on a superhero basis," said Ryan Griffen, Concept Originator.
"I wanted to bring something Aboriginal, Indigenous, to that world. As the son of a light-skinned Aboriginal man and a light-skinned Aboriginal woman, it was important for me that my son had a cultural superhero that he could look up to as a young Aboriginal person. Something he could connect to that was also entertaining."
"Cleverman marks a new era for Australia's production sector, inviting audiences to experience a bold new story-world where Aboriginal storytelling meets high concept genre drama," said Sally Riley, Head of Indigenous, ABC TV. "With an 80 per cent Indigenous cast, Cleverman sets the benchmark for diversity on Australian television and its contemporary themes set in the near future will resonate widely amongst diverse audiences".
"We are delighted that our co-partners SundanceTV will screen the show to its US audiences in line with when our Australian audiences will experience it. A global television event for an Indigenous authored show. We're excited!" Riley said.
"At its heart, Cleverman is a thrilling and sophisticated drama filled with conflict, unrest and smart storytelling. The show presents an allegorical view of some of the timeliest and urgent discussions going on our world right now — our collective treatment of minority groups and what common values we share that make us a society," said Joel Stillerman, president of original programming and development for AMC and SundanceTV.
"What's more, the show will feed our audience's appetite for intrigue while adding an engrossing mix of fantasy. This is the type of program SundanceTV is known for, and we are proud to share this with audiences in the U.S. at the same time as our co-partners in Australia."
Cleverman features an ensemble cast led by award-winning actor Iain Glen (Game of Thrones), Golden Globe nominee Frances O'Connor (The Missing), Deborah Mailman (The Sapphires), Hunter Page-Lochard (The Sapphires), Rob Collins and Stef Dawson (The Hunger Games).
Wayne Blair, director of the Australian box office hit The Sapphires and upcoming film Septembers of Shiraz, is lead director, with acclaimed director, writer, actress and performer Leah Purcell also directing.
Cleverman will launch in the United States on SundanceTV on Wednesday, June 1 at 10/9c and in Australia on ABC and ABC iview on Thursday, June 2 at 9.30pm.