Canberrans will be the first to enjoy a sneak preview of an award-winning Canberra web series on youth mental health when it launches at the National Film and Sound Archives on 23 February.
Fragments thrust viewers into the world of eight teenagers navigating anxiety, depression, bullying, family dysfunction, gender dysphoria, body dysmorphia, neurodivergence, and more. Written by Maura Pierlot, the series aims to encourage candid discussions about mental health and well-being, chip away at the stigma, and encourage young people to check in with each other on a regular basis.
Supported by the ACT Government through artsACT, Fragments was awarded the Best TV/Web Series and Best Screenplay awards (Canberra category) at the 2022 Canberra Short Film Festival.
Pierlot, who is also Executive Producer, believes there is still work to do. “We’re getting better at talking about mental health and wellbeing, but there’s often a disconnect between words and action,” she said.
“I sometimes worry that we’re talking about the need to talk about mental health without really tackling the nitty-gritty issues. Fragments aim to help bridge that gap.”
The 8-episode web series will be launched by ACT Arts Minister, Tara Cheyne. The free event includes a film screening, followed by a Q&A with the Fragments production team. Award-winning documentary director-producer and Canberran, Michael Lawrence-Taylor, will emcee the event.
Producer Dan Sanguineti, who was a 2022 Finalist in the ACT Chief Minister’s Inclusion Awards for his work supporting Canberra filmmakers, devised an ambitious production approach to bring Fragments to life on the screen, involving many talents that showcase the diversity of Canberra’s film community.
“We selected eight different Canberra film creatives, each directing an episode,” said Sanguineti. “Coupled with eight young performers, each director brought their own visual style and experience to the project.”
The Fragments web series is adapted from Pierlot’s stage play of the same name, which enjoyed a sell-out debut season at The Street Theatre in 2019 and was published in script format in 2021 by Big Ideas Press. Boasting new material, the second edition of the book will be available at the launch, ahead of its 1 March release.
Praised as brilliant and riveting, the novel is aimed at high school students but is also an eye-opening read for families and carers.
For Pierlot, the six-year Fragments journey has inspired changes in herself, her art practice, and her personal and professional goals.
“Like the characters in Fragments, I’ve had to dig deep to adapt, transform and stay connected, while carving a path forward in an ever-changing world,” Pierlot said.
Sanguineti agrees, citing the biggest challenges to bringing the web series to screens, “Producing with eight different styles and approaches was a mammoth challenge, particularly as we started pre-production just before Canberra’s last pandemic lockdown, which added complexities to getting the episodes shot. However, the finished series shows how rewarding it can be as a producer to see the successes when an entire team comes together.”
Fragments is written and executive produced by Maura Pierlot. It is produced by Dan Sanguineti. The Production Designer is John Silvestro and the Director of Photography is Miguel Gallagher. The episodes were directed by Joshua Koske, Carl Emmerson, Matthew J. Thompson, Julia Faragher, Declan Shrubb, Denai Gracie, Anthea Staats, and Shelly Higgs. The series cast includes performances by Tom Bryson, Linda Chen, Ankush Khanchi, Jade Breen, Rahel Alemseged, Brendan Kelly, Erin Pierlot, and Zane Menegazzo.
You can view the trailer here: Fragments
The launch is 6 pm for a 7 pm screening. Register to attend via Eventbrite