Kairos: The Australian film looking to shift how we view disability on our screens
Kairos is an Australian independent film that looks to shake our assumptions of who a protagonist can be. It tells the story of Danny, a man with Down syndrome, beset by ambition and crisis. Kairos steps where many productions have decided not to tread, looking to start a seismic shift in how we view disability portrayed on our screens.
We sat down with the star of the piece, Chris Bunton, and his Director, Paul Barakat, about the existing landscape they’ve built on and the concentric circles of change their rippling narrative hopes to enable.
TBS: Chris, this film is extremely introspective, what started you on the path to becoming an actor?
At six years of age, I saw ‘Back to the Future’ and became obsessed with it. I started to develop an interest in how it was made, and began to avidly watch all the behind the scenes footage of the trilogy. I also discovered that Michael J Fox had Parkinson’s disease and since then, I’ve wanted to find a cure. I can live with Down Syndrome, because I was born with it.
I have been involved in gymnastics since the age of 5, and I am currently the National Champion in Special Olympics Men’s artistic. In my early teens, I studied at NIDA for five years. I started to learn stagecraft and overcame my stage fright. Also, my gymnastics background served me well. It made me aware of what my body could do and I could imitate what others could do.
As an actor with Down Syndrome, how do you see the industry?
Casting actors with a disability on screen has always been limited, but in the last few years, I am starting to see some change.
I was cast in a significant role as Evan in the feature film ‘Down Under’, by Abe Forsyth. The reviews of my performance were favourable and gave me a lot more confidence to pursue feature film and TV roles. A major turning point for me was working with Paul Barakat on ‘Kairos’. He is a director who has the courage to cast a person with Down Syndrome as the lead character in a film. I was ecstatic to land the lead role in a feature. It was refreshing to finally have a disabled actor playing a disabled character on screen. The rest of the cast is also very inclusive.
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