In light of self-isolation regulations, make sure you catch Kairos - a great Australian movie just released.
Actors and NDIS participants, Chris Bunton, 27, Audrey O’Connor, 28, and Digby Webster, 32, all display their diverse talents in it, proving that with the right supports, there are no limits to what people with disability can do.
The trio all have Down syndrome and recently featured in this compelling drama about a Danny, a young man with Down syndrome (played by Chris) who abandons his gymnastics achievements to pursue a boxing career. Danny is looking to earn respect, confidence and acceptance – to prove he is more than his disability.
Ex-fighter and trainer, John (played by Jerome Pride), takes Danny under his wing but their mentoring relationship takes a dramatic turn when a sparring session accidentally turns violent.
With accolades around the world and winning Independent Australia Feature Film of the Year, Kairos director and Sloane Street Films owner, Paul Barakat, said Kairos is a truly inclusive film and its amazing cast is testament to that.
“Chris, Audrey and Digby were outstanding in the movie and my wife, Carla, and I couldn’t be more proud of them,” he said.
“When I saw Chris steal every scene in Abe Forsythe’s, Down Under, a few years back, I knew I needed to try and cast him as Danny.
“I made some enquiries and the wonderful team at Bus Stop Films said I should visit Ruckus, a disability-led performance group in Sydney’s inner west.
“To my delight, I found Chris at the workshop, along with Audrey and Digby. I was so inspired by the Ruckus group I incorporated them into the film.
Digby is a great foil as the wily Sam, and Audrey is sublime as Ellie.
Paul said audiences rarely see characters with disabilities in complex and challenging roles.
“I hope Kairos demonstrates what is possible when you provide a space for more inclusive story-telling and casting, without feeling the need to reduce the story to a ‘message’ film or a public service announcement,” he said.
“I hope audiences see how universal Danny’s story is. We all struggle with ego, chasing acceptance or worrying about what other people think at one time or another.
“In a time where society tells us to be anything other than what we are, it’s important to recognise the only acceptance we need in life is our own,” Paul said.
As for Chris, Audrey and Digby, they hope when people watch Kairos it will help to break down those barriers people with disability still face each day in society.
“I hope people will see people with disability differently,” the trio all said.
“We want everyone to understand people with disability want to live their life and to be treated like everybody else without being judged,” Audrey said.
“We need to be seen and heard. I want people to understanding our feelings – what it is like to be out in the world; to just be treated equally and show some respect for others who might be like us.”
The trio said they hope to see more people with disability on the big screen.
“We want them to share their stories so people will give people with disabilities a fair go,” Audrey added.