Airdate: Rainman goes to RocKwiz
A man with Asperger’s Syndrome has a staggering ability to remember Australian pop charts. He tries his luck on RocKwiz.
37yo Sydney man Mark Boerbach has Asperger’s Syndrome and 20% vision, afflictions which would challenge any of us. But Mark loves his music. Really loves his music and says his favourite album is Xanadu.
Mark has the uncanny ability to remember Australian pop charts. He can name any chart song from the 1980s down to title, artist, date released and chart position -including by month.
Top five songs in April 1984? He rattles them off….
Even rock historian Glenn A. Baker is amazed at Mark’s knowledge.
But his unique ability has never found a purpose until he is taken to RocKwiz by documentary filmmaker Russell Kilbey.
On Wednesday night at 8pm you can see Mark’s story in Rainman goes to RocKwiz, and then next Saturday he will appear in the actual RocKwiz episode itself on SBS.
Mark Boerebach is a 37 year old rock music extraordinaire. He knows absolutely everything there is to know about the Australian music charts of the 1980s, and says the Xanadu soundtrack is his favourite album. Currently completing his fifth TAFE course, Mark lives in Sydney but visits an imaginary world called Earth 2 every night in his dreams.
Born blind, Mark regained 20 percent of his vision after a series of operations and was diagnosed with Asperger’s syndrome while still in primary school. Earlier this year, at the suggestion of his TAFE teacher Russell Kilbey, Mark decided to test his incredible musical knowledge at Melbourne’s Espy Hotel, on the music trivia show RocKwiz. His journey was captured by Russell in the documentary Rainman Goes to Rockwiz, which will screen on SBS in the Inside Australia timeslot on Wednesday October 22 at 8.00pm.
Accompanied by Russell and his partner Amy Scully (producer/narrator), whose son also has Asperger’s syndrome, Mark prepares for his visit to Melbourne by meeting Glenn A. Baker, a former Triple J host and 3 time winner of the BBC’s Rock Brain of the Universe. He also meets with RocKwiz adjudicator Brian Nankervis, who explains that to be included on the show, contestants must first make it through a preliminary knock out round.
Despite Amy’s concern that the bright lights and unfamiliar bustle of the crowded Gershwin Room might overwhelm Mark, he flies through the preliminary round to earn his place on RocKwiz, alongside country crooner Catherine Britt and rock legend Max Merritt.
Rainman Goes to RocKwiz provides very personal insight into Mark’s life. Sharing both the difficult times of his childhood, and his dreams for the future Mark’s optimistic personality shines through in interviews. The episode of RocKwiz which features Mark will screen in the same week as Rainman Goes to RocKwiz, on Saturday October 25 at 9.20pm on SBS.
Director’s Statement – Russell Kilbey
Amy and I first read about Mark in the local paper. We were just finishing our first film together “Courage is a Telescope” -on 18 boys who explore their Asperger’s syndrome through art and drama. Mark seemed desperate for something to change in his life and we talked about how we would like to help Mark walked into the college where I teach and enrolled. As I got to know him I felt a rising sense of injustice at the way our supposedly inclusive society had treated him. I also realised he had savant abilities in regard to the Australian music charts.
On a whim one day in April I sent off an email about Mark to RocKwiz not expecting to hear from them. Within half an hour Brian Nankervis rang me up. I guess he recognised my surname. My brother Steve Kilbey had just agreed to appear on the show unbeknownst to me.
He was enthusiastic about Mark trying out for the show but warned that he’d have to go through the same process as everyone else. I knew Mark was extremely sensitive to noise and lights so it would be no easy task for him. Some weeks later I suggested to Mark we should go and I should film it.
He was unsure, thinking that just appearing in a pub would be hard enough. I gave him a copy of our first film and after watching it he reluctantly agreed. Marks class mates organised a fundraiser as Mark lives on next to nothing and could never afford to fly anywhere. Mark designed the poster himself. We applied to the Australian Business Arts Foundation for a grant to finance the filming costs expecting nothing.
With no budget and a borrowed camera we plunged ahead filming on my day off. Mark is an incredible subject, self aware and reflective, I have never heard him say a bad word about another human being or detected a note of bitterness about the cards he’s been dealt.
As filming progressed, Mark revealed his remarkable rich but solitary life to us.
He shocked us with his experiences of high school and astounded us with the parallel universe he journeys to each night. We spent many nights awake discussing how to help him handle the sensory overloads we would expose him to getting him to the show. We worried about what would happen if he didn’t make it through the selection rounds. We were also hoping that the Dept of Education would look kindly on the project.
Mark amazed me with his resilience through out the whole adventure, soldiering on despite the worse flu he’d ever had in wintery Melbourne. Thankfully it all ended well and we didn’t lose him to either pneumonia or a tram.
This film works on many levels, both frivolous and mythic. It’s the story of the ugly duckling, the pariah who would be king and a roadmap of how to help someone connect with their tribe, and perhaps find their place in the world.
Biography: Russell Kilbey, Director
Russell is a well known musician, sound engineer and composer whose music and sound design has been used in TVCs, documentaries and feature films. He teaches music production and filmmaking at a TAFE college.
He has directed and edited several short documentaries including:
No Place Like Home (2005)
Long Way from Home (2007) Made with Kirinari Aboriginal Hostel for The Aboriginal Advancement Society.
Courage is a Telescope (2007) a program about 18 boys who explore their Asperger Syndrome
Russeel has a graduate Diploma in Media Arts and Production UTS. Rainman Goes to RocKwiz is his Television debut as a director.
Biography: Amy Scully, Producer
Amy Scully teaches Make Up Arts with the core understanding of “Make Up as Mask”. Her workshops at NIDA have influenced a generation of young actors. She has over 20 years experience in the industry (Film, Theatre & Photographic).
Her work includes creating character makeup for Chinese Takeaway-an award winning SBS docudrama, winning looks for Silverchair, Midnight oil, The Sleepy Jackson as well as numerous short films and commercials.
Amy has produced her first documentary last year Courage is a Telescope a story about teaching Art and Drama to children with Asperger’s Syndrome-a form of Autism.
Amy teaches Russell’s and her son Marlon, who has Asperger’s Syndrome at home.