By Anthony Frajman

Despite the fact that upcoming high profile SBS series The Hunting follows a nude photo scandal which rocks a school community, “it’s actually not (a show) about social media”, according to its co-writer Matthew Cormack (52 Tuesdays, Fucking Adelaide).

Rather, what the show does, which is what attracted Cormack to the idea, is provide a window into contemporary, complex Australia.

Starring heavyweights Richard Roxborough (ABC’S Rake, Hacksaw Ridge) and Asher Keddie (Offspring, The Cry, upcoming Stateless), the unravelling begins when two high school teachers discover students are sharing explicit photos of their underage classmates and friends online.

As the scandal is blown open, the educators discover the photo distribution is happening on a mass scale. The behaviour of a few students shatters the lives of the participating teenagers, their teachers and their families.

Following in the footsteps of other hit miniseries (Seven Types of Ambiguity, Safe Harbour), the series uses this event as a springboard to explore issues such as relationships, misogyny, gender, multiculturalism, racism and sex.

The eventised, four-part arc of the series allowed its Adelaidean creators, Closer Productions, the chance to offer a nuanced, intriguing portrait of a changing Australian culture.

Not just a problem which affects one generation, the show’s parents are also pulled into the scandal in subsequent episodes, having their relationships with their families, their pre-conceptions and the way that they communicate pushed to breaking point.

Scarily relevant, the series raises important moral dilemmas facing teens and their parents about their online activities, technology, law, ethics, peer group pressure, and access to and influence from “external” factors and elements.

Complex questions are posed to the audience, in a fashion sure to incite as much controversy and stir-up as many viewers as The Slap. Nothing is “black and white”.

Ana Kokkinos, who directs three of the episodes had this to say: “(It was) very important to us that the issues we’re dealing with in terms of gender and sexuality and consent are played out across the generations. And we see it with the parents and also in these teenagers.”

For Kokkinos in particular, ensuring the subjects were portrayed with integrity and diversity without watering it down, was the key to imbuing the series with greater meaning.

“I really wanted the characters to have a certain kind of humanity, despite the flaws, despite the problems and the complexity of the issues that we’re dealing with,” Kokkinos said.

The Hunting co-stars Sam Reid (Bloom, Lambs of God), Jessica De Gouw (Arrow, Deadline Gallipoli), Luca Sardelis (Nowhere Boys, Deadlock), Yazeed Daher (The Heights, Safe Harbour), and newcomers Kavitha Anandasivam and Alex Cusack.

Rounding out this ensemble are Pamela Rabe (Wentworth), Leah Vandenberg (The Letdown), Rodney Afif (Ali’s Wedding), Sachin Joab (Lion), Elena Carapetis (Look Both Ways) and Anna Lindner (Wolf Creek TV).

Matthew Cormack wrote the four-part series with Niki Aken (The Secret Daughter, Janet King). Sophie Hyde produces with Rebecca Summerton and Lisa Scott. Bonnie Elliott is the DOP and Bryan Mason the editor.

The Hunting will premiere on SBS at 8.30pm on Thursday August 1, 2019.


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