By Travis Johnson

Damon Herriman, Xavier Samuel, Kate Box, and Jessica de Gouw will star in the telemovie Riot, currently filming in Sydney, for the ABC. Set in the the nascent gay rights movement of the 1970s, the telemovie tells the story of activist Lance Gowland (Herriman), who was integral in the creation of the Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras, which first took place in 1978. Jeffrey Walker (Ali’s Wedding, Dance Academy) will direct.

According to the official synopsis, “Lance Gowland is a devoted activist, steadfast and dedicated to actively fighting for his beliefs while juggling family, work and relationships. With the system against them and ever present adversity, Gowland and his fellow activists decide to come out fighting in their celebration of diversity.

“An important, integral and inspiring part of LGBTQ history in Australia and the world, Riot explores the origins of the activism that led to Australia’s most famous street parade.”

Presumably one of the key points of focus will be the 1978 Mardi Gras Riot in King’s Cross, which was a reaction to the mistreatment of Gowland and dozens of other activists and revelers during the inaugural event.  NSW Police later issued an official apology over the arrests and bashings that took place.

Said ABC Head of Scripted Production Sally Riley, “It could never be more relevant than now to tell this story of identity, courage and love as a marginalised community finds its voice and rises up to fight oppression and injustice. With a cast as extraordinary as this, Riot promises to be a stirring, landmark television event in time for the 40th anniversary of the birth of Mardi Gras.”

Riot will screen on ABC in 2018.

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