InA Beginner’s Guide to Grief, Anna Lindner is Harriet ‘Harry’ Wylde, who is navigating the loss of her two terminally ill parents in the one week, and the unpredictable fun park of grief.
Harry never imagined things panning out the way they have. Having to forgo her dream New York arts scholarship, being the only child, she had no choice but to return to her tiny hometown back in regional South Australia following the news of her father’s (Glynn Nicholas) terminal cancer diagnosis with her mother (Caitlin McDougall) soon receiving the same fate.
Losing both parents in the space of a week isn’t helped in the least by her devout Lutheran Revivalist father announcing moments before his death that they never believed in God and leaving Harry to handle one puzzling last request – to be cremated. This is made even more complicated when surrounded by a strict Christian community who are dead set on giving Harry’s parents a full blown, Holy Spirit-certified burial. Fortunately, her mother left her the worst gift ever: an old Walkman and some vintage cassette tapes about grief, offering little comfort other than an excuse to block out the world.
With an entire village all up in her business, Harry has no time to acknowledge her grief. First, there’s the chance encounter with her dysfunctional childhood foster-sister, Daisy; a pyromaniac who is fresh out of prison, then there’s her overbearing Aunt Barb, her socially awkward and outright peculiar cousin Isaiah, her Uncle Trev with the full force of God on his side, and an entire Christian community firmly against cremation of the dead. While the rest of the town follow God’s will, Harry is hell-bent to follow her own… even if that means giving the entire community a transcendental high so intense, only heaven could compare.
Alongside Lindner, title roles are also played by Cassandra Sorrell as Daisy ‘Fireball’ Jin, Georgina Naidu as Aunty Barb, Rory Walker as Uncle Trev, Carlo Ritchie as Isaiah Wylde, and Ted Lasso‘s Brett Goldstein as the voice of the grief expert on a series of cassette tapes.
Joining them is Yazeed Daher as J.W. Nathaniel, Danny Ball as Seth, Lori Bell as Senior Constable Peta, Zoe Min O’Callaghan as Young Daisy, Daisy Kennett as Young Harry, and Leela Varghese as Kamille.
A Beginner’s Guide to Grief is directed by Renée Mao, with the producing team from KOJO Studios executive producer/creative producer Linda Ujuk and producer Kate Butler, together with producer Julie Byrne.
Principal development and production funding from Screen Australia, financed in association with South Australian Film Corporation, and supported by the Australian Government through the COVID-19 Temporary Interruption Fund.
A Beginner’s Guide to Grief will be subtitled on SBS On Demand in five different languages including: Simplified Chinese, Arabic, Vietnamese, Traditional Chinese and Korean.