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Big Girls Don’t Cry (2002)


A moving documentary about Indigenous women living with kidney disease.

Curator’s notes

The prevalence of kidney disease is overwhelming in Indigenous communities, with Darwin having an incidence ten times higher than anywhere else in the country, with 80 per cent of that number being Aboriginal. It is difficult to watch the impact of renal disease on Mariah, who has lived with it since she was a baby, as well as elder and activist Essie Coffey OAM, who in her final years lived with renal disease. The title Big Girls Don’t Cry comes from an affirmation Essie Coffey’s family uses in the film. Essie Coffey eventually succumbed to a common cold, her immune system so weak she could not fight it off.

This is a very moving film, and the strength of women – Essie Coffey of the Muruwari clan, Mariah Swan of the Kamilaroi clan, Glenda Kerinaiau of the Tiwi clan – who lived with, and continue to live with, renal disease touches your heart.