Truth Telling - History and Terra Nullius
You are here Series (2017)
You Are Here explores the place of Indigenous people in Australia today through documentary films, which all capture moments in time that have the power to shape our history. From national issues, to personal battles and triumphs, each story inspires a sense of place and allows viewers to discover new perspectives of the Australian spirit through Indigenous storytelling.
I. We Don’t Need a Map 1 hour 27 minutes
Director Warwick Thornton investigates our relationship to the Southern Cross, in this fun and thought-provoking ride through Australia's cultural and political landscape. He takes us on a journey through this five-star constellation's astronomical, colonial and Indigenous history to the present day. For Aboriginal people, the meaning of this heavenly body is deeply spiritual. By contrast, the star-adorned Eureka Flag was emblematic of protest and defiance; a quality that caused it to be adopted by activists, and lately, the darker side of Australian nationalism.
Access: https://vimeo.com/ondemand/wedontneedamap Vimeo: Rent or Buy
II. In My Own Words 1 hour 5 minutes
Erica Glynn follows the journey of Aboriginal students and their teachers as they discover the transformative power of reading and writing for the first time. The documentary focuses on a classroom in Brewarrina, a rural northwest NSW town with a majority Aboriginal population.
Access: https://vimeo.com/ondemand/imow Vimeo: Rent
III. Connection to Country 57 minutes
Tyson Mowarin follows the Indigenous people of the Western Australian Pilbara’s battle to preserve Australia's 50,000-year-old cultural heritage from the ravages of a booming mining industry. The Pilbara region sits in the Burrup Peninsula (or Murujuga) and is host to the largest concentration of rock art in the world, dating back over 50,000 years.
Access: https://itunes.apple.com/au/movie/connection-to-country/id1256298282 iTunes Rent or Buy
IV. Occupation Native 52 minutes
Trisha Morton-Thomas dishes up a fresh look at our colonial past. Exploring everything they never taught you at school but should have. It’s Australian history, but none like you have ever seen or heard before. Trisha decides it’s time to go looking for answers, and along with actor Steven Oliver and several historians the film is a satirical recount of our untold history.
Produced by Brindle Films.
Access: https://vimeo.com/ondemand/occupationnative Vimeo: Rent or Buy
First Australians: The Untold Story of Australia (2008) Series 382 minutes
Director: Rachel Perkins; Classification: PG.
This Documentary chronicles the birth of contemporary Australia as never told before, from the perspective of its First Peoples. The series explores what unfolds when the oldest living culture in the world is overrun by the world’s greatest empire.
Over seven episodes, First Australians depicts the true stories of individuals—both black and white—caught in an epic drama of friendship, revenge, loss and victory in Australia’s most transformative period of history. We begin in 1788 in Sydney, with the friendship between an Englishman (Governor Phillip) and a warrior (Bennelong) and end our tale in 1993 with Koiki Mabo’s legal challenge to the foundation of Australia.
Access: https://www.sbs.com.au/ondemand/program/first-australians SBS on Demand Free
Contact (2009) 55 minutes
Contact is constructed around one of the most extraordinary pieces of footage in Australian history; the moment in 1964 where a group of 20 Martu women and children walked out of the Great Sandy Desert into a new universe of European modernity. The event was only captured on film because scientists were testing the Blue Streak Rocket in the desert at the time. Many of the players on both sides are alive to recreate and tell their story.
Access: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B8QQqxVHfjE YouTube Free
Ten Canoes (2006) 90 minutes
Director: Rolf De Heer. Actors: Crusoe Kurddal Jamie Gulpilil Richard Birrinbirrin;
“One hundred and fifty spears, ten canoes, three wives... trouble.
Bout time to tell you a story, eh? Then I'll tell you one of ours... It is long time ago. It is our time, before you other mob came from cross the ocean...longtime before then. The rains been good and ten of the men go on the swamp, to hunt the eggs of gumang, the magpie goose.
One of the men, the young fella, has a wrong love, so the old man tell him a story... a story of the ancient ones, them wild and crazy ancestors who come after the spirit time, after the flood that covered the whole land... It's a good story, this story I'm gonna be tellin' you 'bout the ancient ones. There's more wrong love in this story, and plenty spears too, and plenty wives...too many wives if you ask me... a beautiful young one and a bit of a jealous one and the older wise one and even more wives than that. And there's plenty happens in this story...there's a stranger comes and one of them wives goes missin' and there's a man with a belly big as a mountain. There's sorcery and magic too, and a wrong spear in the wrong body, and more spears and bad spirits. And even that's not everything that's happening in this story. Ahh, you gotta see this story of mine cause it'll make you laugh, even if you're not a blackfella. Might cry a bit too eh? But then you laugh some more...cause this story is a big true story of my people.”
Access: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dMuv0Ena1PM YouTube Rent or Buy
Jandamarra's War (2011) 56 minutes
Narrated by Ernie Dingo. Genre: Documentary, Drama.
Jandamarra’s War is the story of an Aboriginal warrior who should be as famous as Ned Kelly. He led one of the most effective rebellions in the history of indigenous peoples' resistance to European colonisation.
In the 1890s, European settlers arrived in Kimberley, North West Australia, with vast herds of sheep and cattle, determined to make their fortune by feeding a rapidly growing population in the South. But the settlers soon discover they are amongst indigenous tribes, ready to fight the red-faced invaders who are occupying their land.
Following banishment from Bunuba society for breaking kinship rules, Jandamarra attempts to assimilate into settler culture but fails - he cannot accept the cruel and barbarous treatment of his people. Over 3 years he gains notoriety as a powerful yet illusive outlaw as he embarks on a guerilla war against vengeful pastoralists who are determined to punish and defeat the local tribes. In retribution for his actions Jandamarra is hunted down and finally killed at Tunnel Creek. His legend earns him both the admiration of his own people, and international notoriety.
Access: https://vimeo.com/ondemand/jandamarraswar Vimeo: Rent or Buy
Mabo (2012) 103 minutes
Director: Rachel Perkins; Genre: Biography, Drama; Classification: PG
Mabo is the story of how one man fought the system and won. How one man affected the lives of all his people. Eddie 'Koiki' Mabo was shocked to discover that the ownership of land his ancestors passed down on Murray Island in The Torres Strait Islands for over 15 generations was not legally recognized. Rather than accept this injustice, he began an epic fight for Australian law to recognise traditional land rights.
Access: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yo-nR_MgDu4 youtube free
Wik vs Queensland (2018) 84 minutes
Directed by Dean Gibson; with Noel Pearson and Marcial Langton.
This landmark feature documentary surrounds the historical court decision in 1996 by the High Court of Australia, granting native title to the Wik People of Cape York, and the demonisation that followed at the hands of politicians and media.
Access: https://www.enhancetv.com.au/video/wik-vs-queensland/52007 subscribe - Enhance TV
First Nations life in contemporary Australia
Putuparri And The Rainmakers (2016) 96 minutes
Genre: Feature Length Documentary. Rating: M.
The film spans ten transformative years in the life of Tom 'Putuparri' Lawford as he navigates the deep chasm between his Western upbringing and his growing determination to fight for his family's homeland…Putuparri is a man caught between two worlds: the deeply spiritual universe of his people's traditional culture and his life in modern society where he struggles with alcoholism and domestic violence…Set against the backdrop of their long fight to reclaim their traditional lands, Putuparri and the Rainmakers is an emotional, visually breathtaking story of love, hope and the survival of Aboriginal law and culture against all odds.
Access: https://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=putuparri YouTube Rent or Buy
Access: https://vimeo.com/ondemand/putuparri Vimeo Rent or Buy
Liyarn Ngarn (2007) 70 minutes
Director: Martin Mhando; Authors: Martin Mhando, Steve Hawke, Pete Postlethwaite, Pat Dodson, Archie Roach; Genre: Documentary.
Liyarn Ngarn, in the Yawuru language of the West Kimberley region around Broome in Australia's far northwest, means "Coming Together of the Spirit". It epitomizes a thirty year long mission of Indigenous leader and Yawura man, Patrick Dodson, to bring about a reconciliation between the original owners and the immigrants.
This documentary describes the devastation and inhumanity bought upon Indigenous people in every aspect of their daily lives. Personal stories of injustice are recounted by English actor Pete Postlethwaite, as told to him by Patrick Dodson and Bill Johnson, an old English school friend, whose Indigenous adopted son Louis (born Warren Braeden) was murdered. Archie Roach adds his powerful lyrics and voice to this often painful, yet inspiring, journey of strength. Liyarn Ngarn aims to change peoples' perception and attitude to Indigenous people and to assist with the process of reconciliation. It also offers an epitaph to the Indigenous lives lost through sheer inhumanity.
Access: https://vimeo.com/ondemand/liyarnngarn Vimeo Rent or Buy
https://www.archieroach.com/store/liyarn-ngarn-dvd Purchase via Archie Roach website.
A 2007 ABC RN interview with Phillip Adams talks to Pat Dodson, Pete Postlethwaite and Bill Johnson: https://www.abc.net.au/radionational/programs/latenightlive/3215946
The Tall Man (2011) 79 minutes
Documentary based on the book The Tall Man by Chloe Hooper.
Documentary about the events on Palm Island that follow the death of local indigenous man Cameron Doomadgee on November 19, 2004. The Tall Man tells the gripping story of the trial, of the complex Senior Sergeant Chris Hurley, and of the Doomadgee family as they struggle to understand what happened to their brother. The Tall Man takes the viewer into the courtroom, into the once notorious Queensland police force, and into the Indigenous community of Palm Island of Australia’s Far North – places where people live lives like no others, have a relationship with the land like no others, and a history, culture and a catastrophic present like no others. This is Australia, but an Australia few of us have seen.
Access: https://www.enhancetv.com.au/video/the-tall-man/7604 subscribe - Enhance TV
Utopia (2013) 110 minutes
Director: John Pilger and Alan Lowery; Genre: Documentary; Classification: M
Director and journalist John Pilger first visited the Aboriginal community of Utopia in Central Australia three decades ago during the making of The Secret Country. He returned in 2013 to film Utopia and discovered things hadn’t improved. Families live in third-world conditions, in poorly sanitised shacks where they are plagued by easily curable diseases. Extended families of 16 to 20 people living in the one house, a house which has been identified by government officials as an asbestos hazard. This is Aboriginal Australia now - the most abject poverty you can imagine in one of the wealthiest countries in the world. Utopia documents the saga of suffering, dispossession, alienation, racism and poverty suffered by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples in contemporary Australia.
Access: https://www.sbs.com.au/ondemand/video/259748419676/utopia SBS on Demand Free [Utopia will be available to watch from Monday, 25 May 2020 at 11 pm]
After The Apology (2017) 82 minutes
Director: Larissa Behrendt. Genre: Documentary. Rating: M. Notes: English, Warlpiri with English subtitles. Cast: Debra Swan, Aunty Hazel Collins, Sue Ellen Tighe, Karen Fusi.
After the Apology looks at what has happened in the years since the 2008 speech which stopped the nation by the then Australian Prime Minister, Kevin Rudd. It shocks many people to learn that the number of Aboriginal children being removed today by welfare agencies is much higher than during the time of the Stolen Generations. The documentary tells the story of the incredible advocates working across Australia in the area of child removal, as it gives a voice to 4 grandmothers who sparked a national movement to reunite Aboriginal families in the hope of reuniting with their grand-babies:
Access: https://vimeo.com/ondemand/afterapology Vimeo Rent
Gurrumul (2017) 93 minutes
Director: Paul Damien Williams. Documentary with Gurrumul, Michael Hohnen, Mark Grose. Rating: PG. Notes: English / Yolngu Matha (Gumatj and Gälpu) with English subtitles.
Gurrumul is a documentary in celebration of iconic Australian artist Geoffrey Gurrumul Yunupingu, a Yolgnu man of Elcho Island, Arnhem Land. Blind from birth, Dr Gurrumul Yunupingu found his identity through song, and the haunting voice has already become legend. But Gurrumul found himself increasingly torn between city and country, present and past, self and the community to which he owed so much.
Gurrumul is a beautiful celebration of his life and career, filmed over many years and completed just prior to Gurrumul’s passing. It is a profound exploration of the life and music of this most revered Australian artist.
Dr Yunupingu passed away in July 2017, shortly after approving the film, following a long battle with illness.
Access: https://itunes.apple.com/au/movie/gurrumul/id1360977778 iTunes Rent or Buy
Charlie's Country (2013) 108 minutes
Director: Rolf de Heer. Genre: Drama.
Gulpilil appears in every scene in a film that starts on a light note when Charlie helps police capture two drug dealers. But the government’s Northern Territory intervention is making life more difficult on his remote community, what with the proper policing of whitefella laws that don't generally make much sense, Charlie's kin seeming more interested in going along with things than doing anything about it. So Charlie takes off, to live the old way, but in doing so sets off a chain of events in his life that has him return to his community chastened, and somewhat the wiser.
Access: https://www.sbs.com.au/ondemand/video/1559051331665/charlies-country SBS on Demand
In My Blood it Runs (2019) 1 hour 24 minutes
An intimate and compassionate observational documentary from the perspective of a 10-year-old Aboriginal boy in Alice Springs, Australia, struggling to balance his traditional Arrernte/Garrwa upbringing with a state education.
Details for National reconciliation Week screenings
Access: https://www.eventbrite.com.au/e/in-my-blood-it-runs-virtual-cinema-w-fil... buy a ticket for a fundraiser on 2 or 3 June
Access: Watch In My Blood It Runs (2019) Online | Vimeo On Demand Vimeo Rent https://vimeo.com/ondemand/inmyblooditruns
Toomelah (2011) 101 minutes
Directed by Ivan Sen. Arthouse, Drama.
Actors Daniel Connors, Christopher Edwards, Michael Connors.
In a remote Aboriginal community, 10-year-old Daniel yearns to be a “gangster” like the male role models in his life. Skipping school and running drugs for Linden, who runs the main gang in town, Daniel is well on his way, when a rival drug dealer, Bruce, returns from prison and a violent showdown ensues. Daniel is suddenly alone and forced to make a choice for a better future.
Penny’s Take: “‘Toomelah’ is a powerful film that provides a raw insight into a young boys’ life as he is exposed to the violence, drugs, and alcoholism taking place around him. Selected to play at the Cannes International Film Festival in Un Certain Regard, it showed a side of Indigenous Australia that had rarely been seen.
Access: https://www.amazon.com/Toomelah-Daniel-Connors/dp/B06Y1RT62G Amazon Prime Video Rent or Buy
The Australian Dream (2019) 105 minutes
Director: Daniel Gordon. Documentary with Adam Goodes, Stan Grant & Nova Peris. MA 15+
From shy country kid to two-time Brownlow medallist and Australian of the Year, Adam Goodes is an inspiration to many. The footy field was where he thrived; the only place where the colour of his skin was irrelevant. Goodes’ world fell apart when he became the target of racial abuse during a game, which spiralled into public backlash against him. He spoke out about racism when Australia was not ready to hear the ugly truth, retiring quietly from AFL heartbroken…
The Australian Dream is something people reach for and many obtain, but there’s an emptiness at the heart of it because Australia has not resolved the questions of its history. If the Australian Dream is rooted in racism, what can be done to redefine it for the next generation?
Access: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pjLd4yuYL4Y youtube Rent or Buy
Babakiueria (1986) 29 minutes
Produced by: Julian Pringle; Directed by: Don Featherstone; Short drama.
Babakiueria (aka Barbeque Area) is an Australian satirical film on relations between Aboriginal Australians and Australians of European descent. Babakiueria revolves around a role-reversal, whereby it is Aboriginal Australians who have invaded and colonised the fictitious country of Babakiueria, a land that has long been inhabited by white natives, the Babakiuerians.
Access: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NqcFg4z6EYY YouTube Free
Samson and Delilah (2009) 101minutes
Director: Warwick Thornton. Writers: Warwick Thornton & Beck Cole. Drama, Romance.
Stars: Rowan McNamara, Marissa Gibson, Mitjili Napanangka Gibson. Not Rated.
A glue-sniffing boy and his girlfriend escape the government-controlled no-hope Aboriginal community they live in and go to the city, Alice Springs, looking for a better life. As they discover how harsh life can be for a pair of homeless kids, they also fall in love. Samson & Delilah resonates with truth and will open the eyes of all those who mistakenly believe the hard-won apology given by Prime Minister Kevin Rudd made life better for the first inhabitants.
Warwick Thornton, director of Samson & Delilah said that: “It's my life - everything in that film I've seen and I wanted to show the world what Alice Springs is like. It has the most beautiful angels and the most evil devils.”
Access: https://itunes.apple.com/au/movie/samson-delilah-2009/id415882784 iTunes: Rent or Buy
Jasper Jones (2017) 105 min
Director: Rachel Perkins. Genre: Suspense. Rating; M.
Jasper Jones is a coming-of-age story that follows 14-year-old Charlie Bucktin over the summer of 1965, as he gets caught up in the aftermath of a murder and small-town racism when a troublemaking boy, the titular Jasper Jones, summons him to the scene of a terrible crime. Charlie, lured by adventure and mystery, experiences the trials of teenage love and discovers what it means to be truly courageous.
Notes: This is the movie adaptation of Fremantle author Craig Silvey's best-selling Australian novel, Jasper Jones. The film was shot in Pemberton, a tiny town 4 hours south from Perth, WA. Access: https://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=Jasper+Jones+%282017%29 YouTube Rent or Buy
Mystery Road (Movie 2013) 118 Minutes
Directed by Ivan Sen. Actors: Aaron Pedersen, Hugo Weaving and Jack Thompson.
An Indigenous cowboy detective, Jay Swan, returns to his outback hometown, to solve the murder of a teenage girl. Alienated from both the white-dominated police force and his own community, Jay stands alone in his determination to fight back for his town and his people. Access: https://itunes.apple.com/au/movie/mystery-road/id749962888 iTunes Rent or Buy. Also STAN.
Spear (2015) 84 minutes
Directed by Stephen Page. Drama, Dance.
“Spear” is a contemporary Aboriginal story, told through movement and dance, of a young man, Djali, as he journeys through his community to understand what it means to be a man with ancient traditions in a modern world. Spanning from the outback of Australia to the gritty city streets of Sydney; it is a poignant reflection of the continuing cultural connection of Indigenous people.
The cast includes Hunter Page-Lochard (the director’s son) and Aaron Pedersen.
Penny’s Take: “Spear” provided an opportunity for the first-time film director and current artistic director of the Bangarra Dance Theatre, Stephen Page, to cross art forms from dance and into film. This film is stunning cinematically, but also significant because of its ability to bring ancient and contemporary stories about Indigenous life in Australia to the screen. Hunter Page-Lochard, director Stephen Page’s son, and Aaron Pedersen deliver exceptional performances.”
Access: https://itunes.apple.com/au/movie/spear/id1147395352 iTunes Rent or Buy
Redfern Now (TV Series, 2012 — 2014)
Directed by Rachel Perkins, Wayne Blair, Leah Purcell, and Catriona McKenzie.
“Redfern Now” explores contemporary inner-city Indigenous life. These powerful, moving, funny, bittersweet stories focus on a diverse group of individuals exploring their strength, flaws and resilience. It is a series about extraordinary events in ordinary lives.
Access: https://itunes.apple.com/au/tv-season/redfern-now-season-1/id567306962?mt=4&ign-mpt=uo%3D4 iTunes Buy
Total Control (Australia, 2019) Six part series
Directed by Rachel Perkins.
Deborah Mailman is Alex Irving: a gutsy Indigenous activist appointed as a senator in federal parliament by prime minister Rachel Anderson (Rachel Griffiths) after a video of her role in a horrific domestic violence incident in her hometown of Winton goes viral.
Total Control features all the walking and talking, back-stabbing and moral conflict you’d expect of a political drama – but it’s made especially timely by its refreshing manoeuvring of the obvious gender and racial imbalance in Canberra, and its protagonist’s ambition to create change through the system.
With puncturing, snappy dialogue, the show shines a damning spotlight on the drastically high rates of young Indigenous deaths in custody, entrenched racism, and the shortfalls in the recognition of Indigenous land rights. Mailman’s performance is magnetic, commanding, and at times gleefully unpredictable.
Access: https://iview.abc.net.au/show/total-control iView Free
Bran Nue Dae (2009) 85 minutes
Director: Rachel Perkins. Writers: Jimmy Chi & Kuckles. Genre: Comedy, Drama; Stars: Rocky McKenzie, Jessica Mauboy, Ernie Dingo.
In the Summer of 1965 a young man is filled with the life of the idyllic old pearling port Broome - fishing, hanging out with his mates and his girl. However, his mother returns him to the religious mission for further schooling. After being punished for an act of youthful rebellion, he runs away from the mission on a journey that ultimately leads him back home.
Access: https://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=bran+new+dae YouTube Rent or Buy
The Sapphires (2012) 103 minutes
Directed by Wayne Blair. Australian Drama. Cast Deborah Mailman, Jessica Mauboy, Shari Sebbens, Miranda Tapsell and Chris O’Dowd.
Gail, Cynthia, Julie and Kay are sexy, black, young and talented — and they’ve never set foot outside Australia. Until, the chaos of 1968, they’re plucked from the obscurity of a remote Aboriginal mission, promoted as Australia’s answer to The Supremes and — grasping the chance of a lifetime — dropped into the jungles of Vietnam to entertain the troops.
Access: https://www.netflix.com/au/title/70242568 Netflix subscription
Top End Wedding (2019) 102 min
Director: Wayne Blair. Rating: M. Actors: Miranda Tapsell, Gwilym Lee, Kerry Fox.
Lauren and Ned are engaged. They are in love, and they have just ten days to find Lauren's mother who has gone AWOL somewhere in the remote far north of Australia, reunite her parents and pull off their dream wedding.
Access: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GsurYwBsUHE YouTube Rent or Buy