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High Life

GBP 31.35
SKU: DVD-0883
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    High Life is a comic drama about an unexpected teenage crisis; a bomb-blast in a safe, middle-class and discreetly dysfunctional family who are completely unprepared for their daughter’s emotional collapse. However, this is much worse than regular teenage behaviour.

    What Genevieve Barrett (Odessa Young) is yet to discover is that she is suffering her first manic episode of bipolar disorder. For a sensitive and studious girl, like Gen her experience will be exhilarating before it becomes terrifying. It also happens at the worst possible time – while she’s getting ready for her Year 12 exams and hoping to get into the Sydney Conservatory of Music. To make matters worse, no one is paying attention to her except her sweetly awkward friend, Ben (Benson Jack Anthony) – a trombonist in her jazz ensemble – whom Gen doesn’t realise adores her.

    Her so-called BFF, Holly (Madeleine Madden), is struggling with her own issues and wants very little to do with boring-Gen. Her boyfriend has dumped her, and she is now trying to win him back by sleeping with two of his friends. After Gen uncharacteristically tells Holly exactly what she thinks of her, Holly – in retaliation – convinces Gen that the geeky-cute history teacher that she admires, Mr Paul Webster (Brendan Donoghue), went down on Holly in his car. Gen’s innocence is shattered and she begins to question everything she thought she knew, all while her mania intensifies.

    Meanwhile, Gen’s mother, Liz (Olivia Pigeot), is completely consumed by her new art gallery’s opening. Fusing white and Indigenous artists in the one space, Liz believes that she’s single-handedly reconciling the country. Gen secretly thinks Liz is narcissistic and exploitative, until she has a drink at the gallery opening and decides to speak her mind. Gen’s gentle, optimistic and oblivious dad, Andrew (Paul Gleeson), may or may not be having an affair with his cheerful receptionist. Then there’s Gen’s higher maintenance younger sister, fifteen-year-old Isabella (Milly Alcock), who is fiercely competitive with Gen, despite there being no competition at all because Isabella is nowhere near as academically and musically gifted.

    And there’s one more person in Gen’s sphere; someone she doesn’t know at all – Lennon (Luke Pegler), the gardener who is working in Ben’s back yard and whom she flashes during her manic period of hyper-sexuality. Having been rejected by Mr Webster (after Gen tried to seduce him), she flirts with Lennon instead, and having lost her rational mind suggests they leave civilisation behind. As Lennon drives her into the bush, she has no idea how much trouble she is in.

    But no one thinks to worry about Gen, because she’s the good kid; the sensible, moral, innocent and easily ignored friend, sister and daughter... until now.

    High Life is a six-part series. Each episode has a running time of ten minutes.

    High Life contains sex scenes and references to sex, coarse language and under age alcohol consumption. Teachers are advised to preview the series before showing it to students.

    Curriculum links

    Anyone can develop a mental illness and no one is immune to mental health problems. It is therefore important that as a society we find ways to support people as they encounter challenges that may have an adverse impact on their mental health.

    While the nature and prevalence of mental health problems differ for children and adolescents, it is evident that poor mental health during these developmental stages can have far reaching effects on the physical wellbeing, as well as the educational, psychological and social development of children and adolescents. In addition, children and adolescent with poor mental health are more likely to become involved in health risk behaviours such as smoking, drinking alcohol, using drugs and self-harm.

    Children and adolescents who are mentally healthy are more likely to experience positive relationships with others. They are better able to learn and achieve short term and long-term goals. They find it easier to cope with change and negotiate challenges. It is important that as a society we find ways to support children and adolescents as they encounter challenges that may have an adverse impact on their mental health.

    High Life is an opportunity for adolescents to become more aware and conversant about mental health by providing an honest account of what it means to live with bipolar disorder. High Life is suitable for students in Years 9 – 12. At Years 9 and 10, High Life is relevant to units of work in English, Health and Physical Education, and Media. In Years 11 and 12, the series is relevant to units of work in English, Health and Human Development, Media, Sociology and Psychology. Teachers are advised to consult the Australian Curriculum online at https://www.australiancurriculum.edu.au/ and curriculum outlines relevant to their state or territory to determine the series’ relevance to learning outcomes.

    High Life can also be used to support the teaching of Pastoral Care programs at Years 9 – 12. It is important that students are provided with strategies to support their learning about themselves and others. Students with well-developed social and emotional skills find it easier to manage themselves, relate to others, develop resilience and a sense of self. The series can be used to teach the Australian Curriculum General Capability: Personal and Social Capability.

    The study guide activities promote student engagement and active participation via individual reflection, class discussions, and small group and team work. Multiple activities are provided to allow teachers to select those which will best suit the demands of the subject and the needs of the students.

    Teachers need to provide students with a safe and supportive classroom environment given the sensitive nature of the subject matter, particularly those students who may be experiencing poor mental health or living with family members with poor mental health. It is important to recognise that some students may not want to share their responses. In addition, students should be reminded that a classroom discussion is a public forum and that some information should not be disclosed in this context.



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