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Asian Stereotypes to Be Challenged as Australian Hit Series ‘You Can’t Ask That’ Goes Wide in the Region

You Can't Ask That Asia (behind
Wittaya Khongma/Be Inclusive

Australian unscripted factual series “You Can’t Ask That” is poised to bel localized across a swath of countries in East and South Asia.

Format rights to the hit show, which explores diversity and inclusion by posing candid questions that people might otherwise by unwilling to ask, have been licensed by social welfare-oriented producer Be Inclusive and by Tiger Tiger Pictures.

“You Can’t Ask That Asia” is now being developed by the pair with a view to streaming release in Hong Kong, India, Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and South Korea

Each episode focuses on a single misunderstood group – such as deaf people, suicide attempt survivors, survivors of domestic violence – and presents them with challenging and unexpected questions, crowdsourced anonymously from the public online.

The original Australian Broadcasting Corporation series recently completed its sixth season and a seventh is now in production. Licensed by ABC Commercial, offshoots have already been produced for Canada, France, Israel, Italy, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Poland and Spain. U.S. rights were acquired in late 2020.

Currently in search of streaming and production financing partners in the region, Be Inclusive and Tiger Tiger Pictures’ plan to roll out production in each of the nine Asian markets. Individual episode topics will be tailored to reflect the key inclusion issues of that specific country.

A three-part pilot is currently in production in Thailand, looking at the subjects of trans men, people of short stature and the elderly (over 85 years old). It is directed and produced by Jutuporn Athasopa and executive produced by Laurindo Garcia and Glen Goei. Sakarate Vattanasiriporn serves as director of photography

There is also an opportunity in the future for multi-market compilation episodes for themes that have resonance across the region, like LGBTQ, disabilities, religion and race.

“Asia is an incredibly diverse place with over two billion people living within our nine optioned markets alone, yet channels for meaningful and candid conversations that tackle stereotypes are sorely lacking,” said Garcia. “In many Asian cultures, you’re taught from a young age to fit in, downplay individual differences and avoid rocking the boat. Sadly, many people in Asia are invisible or marginalized because of who they are. Stereotypes run rife and gender- and ethnic-based hate and violence is on the rise. The time is right for ‘You Can’t Ask That Asia’.”

“The ‘You Can’s Ask That’ format has become an invaluable educational resource around the world that has helped change minds, and we want the same for parents, teachers and corporate leaders here in Asia,” said Goei.

Be Inclusive previously produced the 11-part web series “Stories of Being Me” in 2013 and 2016 for the United Nations Development Program. Tiger Tiger’s filmography includes films and documentaries: Goei’s “The Blue Mansion”; and the recent “I Dream of Singapore,” by Lei Yuan Bin; and Tan Bee Thiam’s “Tiong Bahru Social Club,” which played at last year’s Busan, Golden Horse and Singapore International film festivals.