ABC Commercial has announced the sale of the highly acclaimed documentary Firestarter: The Story of Bangarra to the BBC, for broadcast on BBC Four TV channel and iPlayer digital platform.

The BBC (UK & Ireland) sale adds to the raft of sales around the world including Sky New Zealand, SVT Sweden, YLE Finland and SRF Switzerland.

Marking Bangarra Dance Theatre’s 30th anniversary, Firestarter takes us through the company’s birth and spectacular growth, recognising Bangarra’s founders and telling the story of how three young Aboriginal brothers — Stephen, David and Russell Page — turned the newly born dance group into a First Nations cultural powerhouse.

Globally recognised as a leading performing arts company with a distinctive theatrical voice and utterly inimitable soundscapes, music and design – Bangarra’s unique signature style encompasses authentic storytelling, outstanding technique and deeply moving performances.

Featuring remarkable archival footage and interviews with those integral to Bangarra’s establishment, along with former dancers and creatives, Firestarter is a tale of pride, heartbreak, adversity and empowerment – with the transformative strength of Indigenous dance at its centre. Firestarter explores the loss and reclaiming of culture, the burden of intergenerational trauma, and – crucially – the power of art as a messenger for social change and healing.

Head of ABC Commercial, Jessica Ellis said “The BBC are renowned for their ability to recognize blue chip arts content and Firestarter is no exception. The interest surrounding this beautiful documentary in Australia and around the world has been remarkable. We know that UK audiences will agree and embrace this stunning program from ABC Commercial’s Arts slate”.

In Films’ Managing Director and Executive Producer, Ivan O’Mahoney said: “Bangarra Dance Theatre is one of Australia’s best loved performing arts companies, with a huge following overseas, especially in North America and Europe. Bangarra tell vital stories – both ancient and modern – of Indigenous Australia in an accessible, beautiful, way. It has been a privilege to make the film and see how audiences around the world are embracing the emotional impact of their story.”

Produced by In Films and directed by Wayne Blair (The Sapphires, Mystery Road) and Nel Minchin (Matilda & Me, Making Muriel). Fresh from winning the arts category at the 60th Rose d’Or Awards Firestarter: The Story of Bangarra also earned Best Documentary at the 2020 Australian Academy of Cinema & Television Arts Awards, Best Documentary and the inaugural Change Award at the 2020 Adelaide Film Festival and Winner of Best Documentary Award at Pan African Film + Arts Festival 2021 (USA).

Firestarter: The Story of Bangarra will premiere on BBC Four TV channel in 2022 and will also be available on the broadcaster’s digital platform iPlayer.

 About ABC Commercial

ABC Commercial is responsible for taking the Australian Broadcasting Corporation’s screen content, services and brands to the Australian and international marketplaces. From our full suite of digital services and traditional businesses, ABC Commercial extends the global reach of the ABC’s bold, compelling and entertaining content across territories and platforms. All revenue generated from our activities is reinvested into the production of the ABC’s high-quality content.

About In Films

In Films produces high end feature documentaries and factual series for cinema, television and streamers. In 2020, the company won both major Australian documentary gongs: the Walkley Documentary Award and Best Documentary at the AACTA Awards. Founded by Ivan O’Mahoney and Nial Fulton, In Films’ production partners include Participant Media, Village Roadshow, Icon Film Distribution, ABC, SBS and international broadcasters.

About BBC Arts

BBC Arts is the home of creative inspiration and a place to broaden your horizons. We make programmes that celebrate the things our audiences love – from books, visual art, photography, film and gaming to dance, design, theatre, fashion and architecture – showcasing the very best in culture.

The UK’s creative home: we are the UK’s most ambitious creators of original arts programmes because we believe in the transformational power of creativity. As the leading force in cultural programme-making since 1922, our archive is the envy of the world.

Supporting homegrown talent: BBC Arts champions the best filmmakers to bring audiences the next generation of premium series and singles about arts and culture with all the complexity, challenge and depth that only the BBC can bring. We invite some of the UK’s leading artists and experts onto the screen to share their knowledge and passion. At the same time, we are passionate about supporting new and emerging talent in front of, and behind, the camera, leading the way in telling diverse stories that reflect the richness of Britain today.

Deepening our commitment: We have doubled our investment in Arts on BBC Two to bring audiences even more thought-provoking, world-class documentaries, box sets and series. On BBC Four, we present the very best performances from across the country, ranging from classical music to ballet to theatre to opera, as well as screening some of the treasures from our rich archive.

Broadening our range: We’ve listened to what audiences want and are expanding and enriching the programmes we make – widening our scope across multiple artforms and genres but infusing everything we make with the high quality and depth, passion and joy that have always defined BBC Arts.

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