25 January 2012

Phoebe Hart had a regular, carefree childhood - until she hit her teens and was told she would never menstruate nor have children. But it wasn't until age 17 that her mother fully explained the "family secret": she was intersex.

On Sunday (January 29) Ms Hart's documentary Orchids: My Intersex Adventure will air on ABC1 at 10pm. The film, which has received international and critical acclaim, is focussed on a road trip she took around Australia to meet and chat with other intersex people on camera, while trying to reconcile her own life experiences.

"The film actually grew out of a PhD project I did at QUT ... it was a great way to develop a project without too much commercial pressure," 36-year-old Ms Hart said.

Ms Hart's assistant cinematographer was her sister Bonnie Hart, also a QUT film and TV graduate.

The film raises awareness about a condition that isn't widely understood. While many people have heard the word "hermaphrodite", this has been replaced by the term intersex.

Intersex people have perfectly healthy, functioning bodies; however they are born with sex chromosomes, genitalia or reproductive organs that are not exclusively either male or female. Orchids explores Phoebe's own story, as well as those of other intersex people, and portrays the challenges of finding your place in the world when you discover that you don't fit into the same mould as everyone around you.

"It was a project that was a long time coming and it's great that it's finally out there," Ms Hart said.

"It definitely has had an impact on people. We've done interviews for very mainstream publications about the issues raised in Orchids. Information is getting out there now to people who may have never heard of intersex."

Orchids played to a sold out audience at the Brisbane International Film Festival in 2010. Since then it has screened at several major Australian and international film festivals, including Europe's Raindance Film Festival.

While the Australian television debut is on Sunday, Orchids has already been broadcast on TV in Spain, Switzerland, Sweden, Israel, Russia and Germany.

Orchids has been nominated for a prestigious Australian Academy of Cinema and Television Arts (AACTA) Award, with the winner to be announced on January 31.

To watch a trailer of the film go to

Media contact: Michaela Ryan, QUT media officer, 07 3138 4494 or

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