In 1993 Australia created an Indigenous Branch in Australian Film Commission, now Screen Australia. The Branch created opportunities for Indigenous practitioners to be involved in Drama Initiatives that workshopped, trained and gave opportunity for creative to find their voice with the support of workshops and training while doing short films.
This has led to the wave of very distinct voices coming out of Australia for the past quarter of a century. Australian First Nations Programme of Tampere Film Festival will give the floor to these distinct voices. The directors of these films, themselves Aboriginal, depict white supremacy, cultural encounters, persistent taboos and questions of honour and respect. The genres vary from documentaries and animations all the way to splatter and comedy. The Programme consists of three short film screenings and one feature film She Who Must Be Loved.
There are two documentary films in the screening of Australian First Nations 1: Young Mob Questioning Treaty (dir. Paul Gorrie 2019) and Take (dir. Victoria Hunt 2019). In the film Young Mob Questioning Treaty, young Aboriginal people who are traditional custodians in Victoria explore the Treaty process with questions, concerns and their opinions. In the film they are sharing their insights into what has been happening and what needs to happen.
TAKE (te reo Maori: issue, promise, challenge) weaves mana wahine (female knowledge), dance and archival materials to retell the story of the removal of the ancestral Maori meetinghouse, Hinemihi o te Ao Tawhito, from Aotearoa, New Zealand to England in 1892. It is a call to return Hinemihi, embodied by Australian born Maori dancer and performance artist, Victoria Hunt. Set in the liminal spaces between history and emotion TAKE unfolds a story of origins, of traumatic events and colonial violence.
More information on the films at Australian First Nations screening here.
Australian First Nations 2 screening presents us a few growing up stories. Animation Jack & Jones (dir. Jason Japaljarri Woods 2012) tells a story of two Warlpiri boys growing up together in a small remote indigenous community. They find strength in family and culture when troubles turn up on a trip into town. In the film Nobody’s Child (dir. CJ Friday 2017) Lolly is the protagonist who believes that finding her father, who has abandoned her, will right all wrogs. Her quest leads her into an adult world, which it seems, is no place for a child. The answers Lolly seeks are secreted in the unspoken past.
Elders (dir. Tony Briggs 2019) tells a story of two Elders who feel that their grandson is old enough to start learning vitally important lessons that will equip him with the necessary tools to maintain the future survival of his culture. What Do You See (dir. Michael Bonner 2017) gives a floor to Sereena who confronts stigma and stereotypes on a daily basis being a transsexual in today’s society. In this short hybrid documentary, Sereena refuses to justify who she is and turns it back onto us and asks – what do you see when you look at her and can you look past the superficial and see the real her?
Take a look at the whole screening here.
Killer Native (dir. Björn Stewart 2018) in Australian First Nations 3 screening is a splatter film telling a story of a bitingly wicked first contact between British settlers and Aboriginal people – and zombies. Horror elements are seen also in the films Blight (dir. Perun Bonser 2017) and Vale Light (dir. Rob Braslin 2018). Blight is set in the early 20th century on Australia’s western frontier. A police Constable hunts down a band of dangerous Criminals aided by a young, female Aboriginal Tracker. However, when the Constable is severely injured the Tracker is forced to eliminate the last of the Criminals on her own. Vale Light is situated in the public housing commission estate of Pendle Vale, where a single mum and her daughter do it tough, until one day a witch decides to change their fortune.
Check out what else Australian First Nations 3 has to offer.
The programme of Australian First Nations is completed with the film She Who Must Be Loved (dir. Erica Glynn 2018). The documentary film tells the epic life story of Alfreda Glynn – 78 year old Aboriginal woman, stills photographer, co founder of the Central Australian Aboriginal Media Association (CAAMA), and Imparja TV, mother, grandmother, great grandmother, radical, pacifist, grumpy old woman, who in equal measure loves the limelight and total privacy.
More information on the screening here.
Photo: Blight (dir. Perun Bonser 2017)