Fires is a six-part anthology series of interlinked stories about the experiences of everyday people inspired by the 2019-2020 Black Summer fire season.
But this drama may be too soon for some. The wounds are still fresh.
The start of each episode carries a warning that it “features images and dramatic reconstructions … which may distress some viewers”. The ABC iView page also has links to mental health services.
The national climate disaster drew attention from across the globe as the fires burnt through 18 million hectares, destroyed thousands of homes, killed 33 people and nearly a billion animals while many more died from smoke-related impacts.
But don’t pressure yourself to watch it if you find the events of Australia’s Black Summer are still too fresh.
Jae Lee, Psychologist and General Manager of not-for-profit first responders support organisation Fortem, said the trauma involved in these events is deep and ongoing.
“It’s wise to consider your level of engagement with media coverage and reporting of any traumatic event. These pictures and stories are powerful and do have the potential to deepen people’s hurt and grief,” she said.
“However, for some, sharing the stories of this time is important and watching and talking about these productions with others can help people process their thoughts and feelings.”
Filmed in Melbourne and regional Victoria earlier this year Fires loosely follows two young volunteer firefighters from Queensland as they travel south to help fight fires in NSW and Victoria.
Each episode is set in a different location and touches on the stories of Aussies directly affected by the fires as they spread and build across the country through Christmas and New Year.
Visceral and emotionally charged it was co-created by Tony Ayres and Belinda Chayko who gathered the stories of people’s real experiences throughout the deadly bushfire season to craft the anthology series.
Ayres told the ABC that Black Summer was “so life-changing for so many”.
“For me as an observer of the bushfires, I understood it as facts, figures and numbers, but I didn’t understand it as what real human beings went through,” Ayres said.
“And that’s what we are trying to do with the show.”
Through the episodes, we meet volunteer firefighters, families who have lost homes, livelihoods and loved ones.
People who have to make agonising decisions about whether to stay or flee, those escaping homes and holiday destinations, and others who find themselves responsible for the lives of friends and strangers.
The show premiered last month and is on ABC on Sunday nights at 8:30pm with three episodes already available on ABC iview.
The cast includes Eliza Scanlen, Hunter Page-Lochard, Anna Torv, Richard Roxburgh, Kate Box, Miranda Otto and Dan Spielman.
By Brianna O’Rourke
Photo by Jo-Anne McArthur on Unsplash