Airdate: Deep Water: The Real Story

SBS documentary explores a spate of hate crimes against gay men in the 80s and 90s, which in turn inspired a new 4 part miniseries.


SBS documentary Deep Water: The Real Story airs this Sunday to complement the contemporary drama Deep Water featuring Yael Stone and Noah Taylor.

The doco explores a spate of violence and crime which bloodied Sydney’s coastline in the 1980s and 1990s, which inspired the 4 part drama by Blackfella Films.

Amongst the unsolved cases, many of which were officially recorded as ‘suicide’, ‘disappearance’ and ‘misadventure’, is WIN newsreader Ross Warren, who died in 1989.

In this stunning feature-length documentary premiering Sunday October 16 at 8.30pm on SBS, individual stories are woven together by emotional first person interviews and detailed re-enactments, piecing together the facts of these unsolved cases, decades later.

It was December 1989, and David McMahon was out for a night time jog around the cliffs in Bondi. David was attacked, dragged down three flights of stairs and managed to escape, but not before hearing one of the attackers say: ‘let’s take him up and throw him off where we threw the other dude’.

In November 1989, John Russell shared drinks with a friend before making his way towards Marks Park above Bondi Beach, a well-known gay ‘beat’. The following morning a local jogger discovered his body at the bottom of the cliffs covered in blood. The inquest into John’s death lasted seven minutes, with a conclusion of ‘death by misadventure’.

In July 1989, Wollongong newsreader Ross Warren was last seen driving along Oxford Street, Darlinghurst after a night out with friends. Two days later his car keys were found on the rocks beneath Marks Park at Tamarama. Police concluded Ross fell accidentally into the sea. His body was never recovered.

Survivors, witnesses, families of victims and many of those involved at the time including ex-police, investigative journalists, forensic pathologists and the ex-Deputy State Coroner are now candidly speaking out on the events of the past in the hope that new evidence might rise to the surface.

Deep Water – The Real Story raises the complex question of where the responsibility lies for these crimes – the perpetrators, the police, or a wider society in the grips of homophobia, misinformation and fear?

Deep Water – The Real Story is a Blackfella Films (First Contact, Redfern Now, First Australians) production, directed by Amanda Blue (Prescott: The Class System and Me, Young Black Farmers, After The Wave) for SBS, with major production investment from Screen Australia.

Sunday October 16 at 8.30pm on SBS.

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