Airdate: Freeman

ABC will mark the 20th anniversary of Cathy Freeman’s famed win at the Sydney Olympics with Freeman, a documentary in which she shares her full story on the event for the first time.

“Nothing can prepare you for that kind of pressure – or responsibility… I am 47 years old and I have to take that responsibility seriously. By that, I mean give myself permission to share the story in its entirety,” said Freeman.

In 49.11 seconds, Cathy Freeman’s win at the Sydney Olympics in 2000 brought Australia together as a nation. Watched by billions of people worldwide, the 400-metre sprint on the evening of September 25 had the country glued to the TV. Everyone remembers where they were on that spring night in 2000 when Cathy, wearing a futuristic green and white bodysuit, cemented her place in sporting history.

Twenty years later, Cathy Freeman remains one of Australia’s most popular sporting figures, held in tremendous affection by the public for the role she played in shaping our national identity.

Freeman is a cinematic portrait of the 49.11 second race that is still etched in our hearts and minds. Drawing on archival footage and a series of intimate conversations with Cathy Freeman, the film takes viewers on a journey through Cathy’s remarkable sporting career and the frenzied build-up to September 2000. Cathy’s fast-paced climb to the top of the world is mirrored by the rise of a people’s movement supporting reconciliation between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians. Her story became the symbol of a much larger struggle for equality.

Cathy’s experience is brought to life by stunning performances from Lillian Banks of Bangarra Dance Theatre, as choregraphed by Stephen Page, creating an emotionally-charged insight into Cathy’s spirit and mindset as she prepared to compete on the greatest stage on earth.

Cathy Freeman shares her most intimate thoughts, revisiting her past through montages of projected images, and reveals what it felt like to be at the centre of such a unique and significant event.

With insights from Freeman’s mother, insiders and media commentators, the film gives previously unseen glimpses into a moment of rare intensity.

Freeman is the story of the nation coming together around an Indigenous Australian female athlete who delivered when it mattered, on the greatest stage on earth. The film sheds light on one of Australia’s proudest moment and explores why, 20 years on, it still means so much to so many of us.

Freeman is a General Strike and Matchbox Pictures production in association with ABC and Film Victoria. A film by Laurence Billiet, in collaboration with Stephen Page & Bangarra Dance Theatre. ABC Commissioning Editor, Jo Chichester. International sales are being handled by NBCU Distribution.

Sunday 13 September, 7.40pm on ABC.


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