In Downriver, due to his epilepsy, James (Reef Ireland) has vague and blurry memories of that fatal day by the river, when he was playing around with his childhood friend Anthony (Tom Green) and a little boy drowned in the water. When he’s done serving his time in juvie and returns to his small town, James has a hard time readjusting to life outside the prison. His parents have split and his mother is dating another man, so he has no choice but go live in a house share that his social worker set him up for. However, the past keeps haunting him and James can’t help but go back to the campsite by the river where his mum still has the trailer they used to go for their summer holidays.
James returns to the scene of the crime, determined to uncover the truth once and for all, as the little boy’s body was never found. James befriends Damien (Charles Grounds), a handsome boy who resides in the neighbouring trailer with his family. An attraction develops between the two but their potential relationship is jeopardised by Anthony, James’ old friend who was with him at the river when the boy drowned. Anthony now is a pot-smoking, occasionally gay-hustling, delinquent raised in a broken home with an abusive father. The deeper James digs into the past, the clearer it becomes that the truth about what happened on that infamous day is way more than meets the eye.
“Downriver takes us somewhere fresh, and that’s a thrill. So few movies ever get close”
— Paul Byrnes, The Sydney Morning Herald
“Writer director Grant Scicluna may have invented a new subgenre, Queer Australian Gothic, with his debut feature Downriver, a brooding exploration into the fallibility of mankind and the search for redemption.”
— The Lowdown Under
Did You Know?
Downriver is an ideal extension of the world created by filmmaker Grant Scicluna in his 2012 short film The Wilding, which won the prestigious international LGBT short film award Iris Prize. However the feature isn’t a literal continuation of that story. Reef Ireland, who plays James, the protagonist in Downriver, is also the short film’s main star but his character’s name there is Malcolm, and he’s a juvenile inmate who is offered parole but is torn between the chance to finally embrace freedom and having to leave his lover behind in prison, without his protection. Despite being in the end two separate stories, the two projects are connected by the thematic thread of exploring the emotional journey of a juvenile detainee, first in the secluded environment of detention and then as he tries to re-integrate himself into the outside world. Review our Gay Themed Films Here
Read our interview with Grant Scicluna