‘Woven Threads’ to offer another rich tapestry with Indigenous series

A still from 'Woven Threads: Stories from Within'.

Long before Twitter added its thread function at the end of 2017, Michi Marosszeky was already finding ways to tell impactful stories with fewer words.

Marosszeky is the creator and director of Woven Threads, a short documentary concept that uses animation to narrate human experience with the intention of encouraging empathy without judgement from its audience.

So far there have been two series, comprising eight episodes of four and five minutes, respectively, released under the banner. 2018’s Stories From Afar followed the plight of refugees, while last year’s Stories from Within, produced in conjunction with The Black Dog Institute, aimed to bring a conversation about mental health to the foreground.

Marosszeky and Woven Threads co-founder and producer Paul Sullivan are in the midst of developing a third iteration with Lifeline and NITV that will focus on Indigenous stories.

It’s another step in a journey that began in 2011 for Marosszeky, who admitted it took a while to get people interested in the original idea.

“We were a little bit ahead of our time in terms of wanting to do a short-form animation where the episodes are only five minutes long,” she told IF.

“Part of the reason we wanted to do that is I think people are viewing media differently and taking soundbites because they have less time.

“Our thinking was if we can put the content into smaller amounts, we might reach more people.”

Michi Marosszeky.

Having come from a refugee family, Marosszeky initially intended Woven Threads to be a one-off series borne out of what she perceived as a “lost human connection to the people who were trying to find a safe place to live”, only to find more subject matter suited to the format.

“Through the process of making [Stories From Afar], my partner Paul and I realised there are so many issues that are not discussed or understood as well as they could be in society,” she said.

“Instead of looking away when we walk past a homeless person, we might feel differently if we understood what their story was, or if someone is uttering crazy kind of words, we might have more empathy if we realise that maybe they’re having a psychotic episode.

“These are the things we don’t discuss in life, so I guess it’s evolved in the sense we want to tell more stories about more issues and it feels like there is an endless amount of them to bring out.”

Production is expected to begin in August on new episodes, which will feature contributions from the Yorta Yorta/Wurundjeri (Woiwurrung) theatre, film practitioner, Tony Briggs, and the co-founders of Deadly Connections, Keenan Mundine and Carly Stanley.

A still from Keenan Mundine’s episode of ‘Woven Threads’.

Mundine was among the subjects of Stories From Within, in which he shared his experience growing up in The Block in Redfern and losing both his parents at a young age, with his ensuing battle with homelessness and addiction eventually leading him and Stanley to set up the Aboriginal Community-led, not-for-profit organisation.

Woven Threads has also collaborated with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander 24/7 support line 13YARN, sharing the story of Andrew Bacon – a proud Yamaji man who grew up in a troubled household – to encourage others to seek help through the government and Lifeline-supported initiative.

Marosszeky said she was keen to bring on as many Indigenous people as possible in making the new series,

“We approached NITV and they were very interested in the concept, as long as we had Indigenous people involved to ensure it was authentic.

“Keenan and Deadly Connections have been really involved in finding the subjects for the stories and discussing what were the stories that were important to tell. When you are only telling eight stories, it’s really important to try and find eight stories that haven’t necessarily been told but also reach the most people, which is what we try to do with all of the work.”

Mundine and Marosszeky will today appear alongside Bangarra Dance Theatre associate artistic director Frances Rings and Black Dog Institute mental health professor Katherine Boydell on a panel to be held as part of this year’s Vivid Sydney Ideas program. Hosted by Craig Reucassel, ‘A Fresh Perspective: Tackling Issues with Creativity’ will showcase how unique content can be delivered to transform and amplify social and political conversations. Find out more information here.