Australian Screen

Australia’s audiovisual heritage online

Indigenous documentary

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Factual representation of Indigenous people and culture by Indigenous people.


Agnes Abbott: Hard Worker documentary – 2006

An Eastern Arrernte woman’s journey from mustering cattle to performing at the opening ceremony of the Sydney Olympics in 2000.

Alyawarre Country documentary – 2001

For decades there was awful conflict between pastoralists and Indigenous people; two elders share their perspective, in their language.

The Art of Healing documentary – 2005

Indigenous artists have given biblical texts a unique interpretation on the walls of a church near Alice Springs.

Art + Soul documentary – 2010

Senior art curator Hetti Perkins travels across Australia to meet leading Aboriginal artists and talk about their works within an Aboriginal cultural context.

Aunty Connie documentary – 2006

Narration by Deborah Mailman reading from Connie’s life story told in her book, When You Grow Up is skillfully blended with Connie speaking to camera.


Benny and the Dreamers documentary – 1992

Freddy West Tjakamarra, a member of the Pintubi people, thought that tinned food contained human flesh.

Beyond Sorry documentary – 2003

The filmmakers get to the heart of the consequence of child removal, yet tell a story that is painfully humane, and never compromising the humanity and beauty of its subjects.

Big Girls Don’t Cry documentary – 2002

This is about Indigenous women living with renal disease, and their strength pulls at the heart strings.

Black and Dusty documentary – 2005

This is a film for those addicted to speed and dust. Filmmaker Warwick Thornton is one of the Indigenous participants in the 2005 Finke Desert Race from Alice Springs.

Blood Brothers – Freedom Ride documentary – 1993

This documentary about Indigenous campaigner Charlie Perkins was made by his daughter Rachel, giving it extra intimacy.

Bungalung: A Dreaming of Cannibals documentary – 2007

A dramatised documentary about an ancient ghost story told by two Anmatjere elders to a group of children.

Bush Toys documentary – 2008

A group of boys from the Titjikala community maintain the desert tradition of making miniatures or ‘bush toys’ from materials found in the environment.


Cheeky Dog documentary – 2006

Dion is profoundly deaf and has muscular dystrophy but his love of dogs and his carer’s love have transformed him.

Cool Drink and Culture documentary – 2006

These three young women are passionate about passing on their knowledge of bush tucker to the Amunturrngu community’s children.

Crook Hat and Camphoo documentary – 2005

This is an episode of the important Nganampa Anwernekenhe TV series that aims to preserve indigenous language and culture.


Deadly Yarns 3 – Who Paintin’ Dis Wandjina? short film – 2007

When a Perth artist uses traditional iconography as graffiti, the traditional owners are not impressed.

Deadly Yarns – Don’t Say Sorry short film – 2004

In this short documentary Christine Jacobs describes how she overcame the pain of being a child of the stolen generations.

Deadly Yarns – Sugar Bag short film – 2004

A story of love and endurance about an Aboriginal child fathered by a white man and hunted down by police troopers.

Desert Tracks short film – 1997

Desert Tracks – a business established without government funding – is a community’s attempt to sustain itself culturally and an important initiative for self-determination.

Dog Dreaming documentary – 2001

Dog Dreaming is a documentary about the journey of two ancestral dogs that became a Dreaming story.

Dugong Dugong documentary – 1980

Depending on the individual viewer’s attitude, scenes of dugong hunting can be exhilarating or disturbing.


First Australians – Episode 1, They Have Come to Stay documentary – 2008

The opening episode of this landmark television series explores the first contact, meetings and relationships between the British and the first Australians.

First Australians – Episode 2, Her Will to Survive documentary – 2008

This episode covers the period from 1825–60 and European settlement in Tasmania, told through the stories of Truganini and George Augustus Robinson.

First Australians – Episode 3, Freedom For Our Lifetime documentary – 2008

Episode 3 focuses on the first Australians of Victoria and the lives of Simon Wonga and William Barack.

First Australians – Episode 4, No Other Law documentary – 2008

This episode examines the coming of the telegraph pole and white settlement to Central Australia.

First Australians – Episode 5, Unhealthy Government Experiment documentary – 2008

This episode explores the lives of Jandamarra, an Aboriginal stockman, and Gladys Gillian, an institutionalised half-caste.

First Australians – Episode 6, A Fair Deal for a Dark Race documentary – 2008

Episode 6 of First Australians explores Indigenous history from 1930–67, primarily in the south-eastern regions of Australia.

First Australians – Episode 7, We Are No Longer Shadows documentary – 2008

The final episode of First Australians covers the period 1967–93 and Eddie Mabo’s fight for land rights.

Footy The La Perouse Way documentary – 2006

Sydney’s La Perouse had an all-black football team in the 1930s but all nationalities were being welcomed by the 1950s.

The Foundation 1963–1977 documentary – 2002

Excluded from the census until 1967, Indigenous Australians formed The Foundation for Aboriginal Affairs in 1963, to agitate for political and social change.


Gulpilil: One Red Blood documentary – 2002

David Gulpilil continues to be a person – culturally and creatively – of incredible artistic significance to Indigenous peoples and Australian society alike.


Island Fettlers documentary – 2006

In the 1960s, Torres Strait Islander men moved to the Pilbara for work and stayed on. Island Fettlers starkly contrasts two cultures – visually, physically and aurally.


Karli Jalangu – Boomerang Today documentary – 2004

The making of the number seven boomerang is not a hurried process, but measured and multifaceted. Every step of the procedure has meaning.


Loved Up – Endangered documentary – 2005

While parts of Endangered have a light, Sex and the City feel to them, the undertones are serious and speak of cultural responsibility.

Loved Up – Lore of Love documentary – 2005

This film about people in love is a refreshing break from the usual heavy-handed anthropological treatment of Indigenous subjects.

Loved Up – Our Bush Wedding documentary – 2005

This documentary is about the wedding of artist Gordon Syron and photographer Elaine Pelot-Kitchener. Gordon went to jail for killing a man to protect his family’s country.

Loved Up – The Dream of Love documentary – 2005

Do blackfellas love the same way as everyone else?’ One of four films in this series which engages with themes of Indigenous love, family and identity.

Loved Up – Yellow Fella documentary – 2005

Tommy E Lewis, Indigenous star of the stage and screen, identifies as a 'yellow fella’ – both black and white.


Marn Grook documentary – 1996

'Marn Grook’ is the Indigenous name of a game very similar to AFL. This revealing documentary contends that AFL is in fact derived from Marn Grook.

Merrepen documentary – 2005

Women from the Nauiya community 'are painting our stories and making things’ to practise cultural knowledge and pass on and preserve traditions.

Message Stick – Arafura Pearl television program – 2003

This is a snapshot of the Mills family, a respected family in the Darwin area. Kathleen is an Indigenous Elder, mother of eight, musician and singer.

Message Stick – Babinda Boulders television program – 2005

The story of the Devils Pool, recounted by Yidinji elder Annie Wonga, is an ancient love story. Young men fall victim to a waterhole where the spirit of a woman dwells.

Message Stick – Bill’s Wake television program – 2001

Bill Neidjie, a traditional owner of Kakadu, had a wake while he was alive, rather than waiting until his death, to hear what people wanted to say about him.

Message Stick – Black Olive television program – 2005

As a chef, Mark Olive has developed dishes that use Indigenous knowledge of fauna and flora and food preparation that complements the Australian landscape.

Message Stick – Child Artists of Carrolup television program – 2003

This episode provides another perspective on the child removal policies and how the government of the day had specific designs on how half-caste children would occupy a place in society.

Message Stick – Koori Court television program – 2005

The Koori Court in Victoria was set up to reduce high imprisonment rates by combining Aboriginal beliefs with the white legal system.

Message Stick – Kurtal: Snake Spirit television program – 2002

A beautiful story about Kurtal, an ancestor and Dreaming song, and the Elder Spider, whose responsibility it is to perform the dance as well as pass it on.

Message Stick – Scotty Martin, Rodeo Boy, Don’t Say Sorry television program – 2005

A story about songman Scotty Martin, who inherited the role of composer of songs, a repository of knowledge passed from generation to generation.

Message Stick – The Long-grassers television program – 2005

An exposé on the homeless Aboriginal people of Darwin, known as 'long-grassers’. Deals with both the compassion and the bigotry they evoke by their mere presence.

Message Stick – Wathaurong Glass television program – 2003

Wathaurong Glass is an initiative that not only creates a new way of expressing Aboriginal art, but also provides a service to the community from which it comes.

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