Actor John Jarratt’s Q&A screening of What About Sal at Sale Cinema

John Jarratt (right) is the writer, director and actor of What About Sal? Image: Contributed

Australian acting legend John Jarratt, of Wolf Creek and Picnic at Hanging Rock fame, will be at Sale Cinema tonight (Wednesday, May 22), for a One Night Only Q&A screening of his new film, What About Sal?

The show begins at 6pm, with the movie starting at 6.30pm, and the Q&A after its conclusion.

In a ground-breaking move for inclusivity and representation in the film industry, Gerard O’Dwyer, a talented actor with Down Syndrome, takes the lead role in What About Sal?

This heart-warming and feel-good story follows Sal, a young man in his 30s, who embarks on a poignant journey after discovering his mother’s terminal illness.

As Sal grapples with the news of his mother’s lung cancer diagnosis, he sets out to find the rock musician father he never met, unravelling a tale of love, loss, and reconciliation. With time ticking away, Sal’s quest becomes a race against time, mirroring the urgent reality faced by many individuals with Down Syndrome and their families.

The film, inspired by real-life encounters and directed by Jarratt, sheds light on a pressing concern within the Down Syndrome community. Historically, individuals with Down Syndrome have faced limited life expectancies, but advancements in healthcare have extended their lifespans to match those of the general population. However, this progress brings with it a new challenge: the potential for these individuals to outlive their primary caregivers, predominantly their parents.

“I was at the footy and I noticed this young exuberant Down Syndrome man in front of us. Every time we scored, it was like he’d found Mecca,” Mr Jarratt said.

“Later I said to my mate, ‘I wonder what would happen if his mother passed away and he had nobody,’ and I immediately knew I had a film – and knew just the actor to be in it.”

What About Sal? adeptly tackles this dilemma, emphasising the urgent need for comprehensive support systems for individuals with Down Syndrome and their families. By showcasing the resilience, determination and humanity of its characters, the film aims to challenge stereotypes and foster greater understanding and acceptance.

O’Dwyer’s portrayal of Sal not only showcases his exceptional talent, but serves as a powerful reminder that actors with disabilities deserve equal opportunities in the entertainment industry. With his remarkable performance, O’Dwyer reaffirms that he is not defined by his condition, but by his talent and passion for acting.

What About Sal? promises to be a touching and thought-provoking cinematic experience that resonates with audiences worldwide.