Two-time Academy Award winning actress and UNHCR Goodwill Ambassador Cate Blanchett was on a panel at the recently held C21’s Content London TV conference in the British capital. At the event, the actress, producer and humanitarian, discussed her latest project, an Australian immigration series, titled Stateless. She co-created it as well as executive produced it with Tony Ayres and Elise McCredie. Blanchett and Andrew Upton’s company, Dirty Films, is also producing the series. Apart from this, the actress, who will also star in the new television drama about Australia’s onshore immigration detention regime, spoke about dramas being “challenging” and “impolite”.
Besides Blanchett, president of NBCUniversal International Studios, Jeff Wachtel, Managing Director at Matchbox Pictures Alastair McKinnon, and Australian producer Tony Ayres were part of the session.
The upcoming project, Stateless, is a six-part drama series that stars Yvonne Strahovski, Jai Courtney, Asher Keddie, Fayssal Bazzi, Dominic West and Blanchett.
The series will focus on four characters whose paths cross when they are caught up in Australia’s immigration system and held in one of Australia’s desert-based detention centers. The characters include a flight attendant fleeing a cult, an Afghan refugee, a down-and-out Australian father and a bureaucrat entangled in a scandal.
In an earlier interview Blanchett said, “Whilst this story centres on Australia, the dilemmas that it explores through four absorbing characters will resonate globally: the desire for personal freedom, the need for social stability, an escalating lack of faith in the political process and the deeply unsettling impact this has on individual lives.”
Talking about her experience with pitching a project with such a serious subject matter, Blanchett shared, “As soon as you mention the word refugee, doors close. I mean quite literally for refugees, but also the doors of various television executives.”
She further went on to say that even when executives call a project “important” or “worthy,” that is “the death knell.”
She asserted that topical shows are important in this day and age. “Cate Blanchett implored drama producers to be impolite, provocative and to make shows that start meaningful conversations,” reported Variety.
“I love zombies, I love vampires, Walking Dead is one of my all-time-favorite series,” the two-time Oscar-winner said. “But we’re living in a time when the political system, which is meant to deal with facts – and our job [in film and TV] is dealing with fiction – has become a burlesque. It’s cosmically bewildering.”
Blanchett continued, “The world is having a massive, massive problem with nuance and needs drama that is elephant-in-the-room programming, which creates conversation. That’s what drama really should do,” she said, adding that “drama should be challenging and impolite and provocative” and producers “have to find the right way to do that.”
According to Cate Blanchett, Stateless is a passion project that has been six years in the making, with several U.S. backers shying away from its challenging subject matter.
The series is slated to air on ABC next year.
– With information from The Hollywood Reporter and Variety.