‘Latecomers’ in competition at Series Mania

'Latecomers'. (Photo: Reneta Dominik)

SBS short-form series Latecomers is off to France as the only Australian project selected for this year’s Series Mania.

Latecomers, a SBS and Screen Australia Digital Original, follows Frank (Angus Thompson) and Sarah (Hannah Diviney) as they are thrust together after their able-bodied friends hook up at a bar. They form a reluctant bond over their shared disability and its impact on their romantic lives – or lack thereof.

The cast also includes Miriama Smith, Patrick Jhanur, Tracy Mann, Emily Havea, Tom Wilson, Brittany Santariga, Amy Kersey, Piper Brown, and Liam Freinke.

The series is written and created by Emma Myers, Thompson and Nina Oyama, directed by Madeleine Gottlieb and Alistair Baldwin, and produced by Hannah Ngo and Liam Heyen. 

At Series Mania, the series will screen in the Short Forms Competition alongside A Strange Summer from Finland; Autodefensa from Spain; Canis Familiaris from France; The Universe Conspires from Uruguay and Argentina and Five Years from the Czech Republic.

“All that makes Australian series great is packed into this uplifting, raunchy and human tale about two youngsters living with cerebral palsy and their two carers,” said the programmers of the series.

After a “wonderful” Australian response, Heyen tells IF he is excited to hear what the international industry and audience has to say about Latecomers at the television festival.

“Making Latecomers has been such a fulfilling journey for all of us in front and behind the camera,” he says.

“This international recognition of Latecomers is more proof that stories told authentically can reach great heights and I hope it encourages filmmakers from historically underrepresented communities to keep telling their stories proudly and confidently.”

In a joint statement to IF, SBS scripted commissioning editors Loani Arman and Donna Chang said they were incredibly proud of the series and that the team would get “such well-deserved” on the world stage.

Latecomers showcases fresh voices and challenges stereotypes in a way we haven’t seen before, connecting with and capturing the hearts of audiences – we can’t wait to see the reaction as it takes on the world at Series Mania,” they said.

“It also demonstrates the power and potential of Digital Originals, an initiative we’re so proud of which is providing an important platform for a new wave of television creatives from under-represented backgrounds who are changing the future of Australian storytelling.” 

Latecomers is the second Digital Original to screen in Series Mania, with Iggy & Ace, also produced by Ngo, selected in 2021.

Some 54 series will screen at the event in 2023, from 24 different countries.

Series Mania will run March 17 – 24 in Lille, France with the Series Mania Forum held March 21–23 and the Lille Dialogues March 23.