John Safran: documentary-maker, broadcaster, professional prankster. He’s been accosted by Ray Martin, arrested for driving a remote control seagull onto a cricket pitch, and exorcised on camera.
Safran specialises in surprising audiences – as he spectacularly proved at our expectation-exploding Sunday Sermon earlier this year. But his career is less about shock value than following the path of his relentless curiosity – and the unexpected insights it offers up, about his subjects, but also himself. In his first transition from the screen to the page, Murder in Mississippi, Safran delves deep into contemporary racism in the American South, through the lens of a bizarre court case lousy with contradictions.
Safran played a prank on white supremacist Richard Barrett for his TV documentary Race Relations. When he heard Barrett had been murdered by a black man, he was shocked but not surprised. But then he discovered Barrett had owed his murderer money – and propositioned him. And so he went to Mississippi to uncover the truth and cover the trial – talking to cops, racists, neighbours, lawyers, families … and even the murderer.
This will be a multimedia event, with video, audio and souvenirs from his trip. And in true Safran fashion, John will question everything – from the facts and significance of the case, to his role as a writer, and his interest in it all.
Presented by the Wheeler Centre and Token Events.
John Safran is a writer and filmmaker who always gets in too deep for his own good. His debut book, Murder in Mississippi, won the Ned Kelly Award for best true crime. His follow up, Depends What You Mean by Extremist, found him lost among radicals and was shortlisted for the Australian Book Industry Awards. His wild and hilarious documentaries, such as ‘John Safran vs God’ and ‘Jedis & Juggalos’, have received accolades from the Australian Film Institute and Rose d’Or Festival.
His latest book is Puff Piece: How Philip Morris set vaping alight (and burned down the English language).