Standing Up for Sunny is the story of a boy, a girl, their relationship with disability and with each other. The story is told with heart, humour and a refreshing voice which, despite the hardship and heartache portrayed throughout the film, remains upbeat and positive.
Written and directed by Steve Vidler, the film centres on Travis, a young man and angry loner who has cerebral palsy and who, following termination from work, and egged on by his blind and unconventional flatmate, Gordo, agrees to coach bartender Sunny, a reluctant stand-up comic.
RJ Mitte talking with Angela Bishop at the Grace Gala about his experiences with cerebral palsy, his work with Australia's Cerebral Palsy Alliance and what he hopes audiences take away from Standing Up for Sunny
But as Travis encourages Sunny to dig deep to help find her comic voice, it becomes clear that Sunny has her own demons and invisible disability, paralysing her confidence and ability to believe in herself. The empathy shared by Travis and Sunny sparks something special but other things, including Sunny's controlling and ambitious boyfriend, thwart their fragile relationship.
RJ Mitte (of Breaking Bad fame) gives a shining performance as Travis and his "real life" cerebral palsy gives the film credibility and authenticity, begging the question why more actors with disability are not cast nor represented in film. He has the audience in the palm of his hand as soon as he hits the screen with his disarming humour and wit. Supported by Philippa Northeast who plays Sunny, we are drawn into their individual and collective worlds of pain and hardship and inspired by the resilience of the characters and those, in our world, that they represent.
Philippa Northeast talking at the Sydney Film Festival about making the film Standing Up for Sunny
Other members of the case include Barry Humphries and Sam Reid, as well as some new faces and well-known personalities in cameo appearances.
Standing Up for Sunny is one of this year's most poignant, funny and thought-provoking films and the story will resonate with many and move others to act on promoting a more inclusive and kind world. It's a film which will entertain and encourage you to challenge society's view of what it means to be "normal" and to acknowledge that we all have disabilities of one kind or another.
An Australian film to be immensely proud of, Standing Up for Sunny will be coming to cinemas throughout Australia immediately after the conclusion of the Sydney Film Festival 2019.