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Indigenous documentary

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Factual representation of Indigenous people and culture by Indigenous people.

1970s

My Survival as an Aboriginal documentary – 1978

The first documentary directed by an Indigenous woman offers a solution by way of continuing cultural practice.

1980s

Dugong Dugong documentary – 1980

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

Mimi: An Evening with the Aboriginal Dance Theatre documentary – 1988

NAISDA led to the emergence of the Bangarra Dance Theatre and produced artists such as Christine Anu and Stephen Page.

One People Sing Freedom television program – 1988

One People Sing Freedom documents the largest gathering of Indigenous people since 1788, a protest march against the Bicentennial celebrations of 26 January 1988.

1990s

Benny and the Dreamers documentary – 1992

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

Blood Brothers – Freedom Ride documentary – 1993

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

Warlpiri documentary – 1993

Elders teach children how to collect and prepare bush potato – a bush tucker favourite.

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.

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.

Vanish documentary – 1998

Ivan Sen’s Vanish explores the history of the Gamilaroi people being moved onto Toomelah Reserve.

Wrap Me Up in Paperbark documentary – 1999

At the heart of this documentary is the struggle to reclaim a mother’s remains and return her to the country and people from whom she was taken.

2000s

Minymaku Way: There’s Only One Women’s Council documentary – 2000

Minymaku Way challenges views of Aboriginal community dependence on outside bureaucracy.

Stolen Generations documentary – 2000

Describes the destruction of the familial, cultural and social fabric of Indigenous communities following the removal of children form Indigenous families.

Teddy Briscoe documentary – 2000

Indigenous stockman Teddy Briscoe, now an old man, tells his story, sharing the historical importance of men like him to the Australian cattle industry.

Tombstone Unveiling documentary – 2000

In Torres Strait Islander culture, unveiling the tombstone of the deceased a year after death marks the end of the mourning period.

A Walk with Words: The Poetry of Romaine Moreton short film – 2000

This short biographical film showcases the life and poetry of performance artist Romaine Moreton and her struggles to gain freedom.

Willigan’s Fitzroy documentary – 2000

In the film’s introduction we hear the director talking with Willigan as they drive through the country in a four-wheel drive vehicle, setting up a style Thornton uses throughout the film.

Alyawarre Country documentary – 2001

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

Dog Dreaming documentary – 2001

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

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.

My Mother’s Country Part 1 documentary – 2001

Oral history is an important feature of Indigenous culture. The stories told by family members give the Coniston massacre of 1928 a human face.

My Mother’s Country Part 2 documentary – 2001

Japanangka’s act of retaliation for the theft of his wife sparked one of the last-known massacres of Aboriginal people in Australian history.

Narbalek documentary – 2001

Narbalek is one of more than 100 documentaries made in the Nganampa Anwernekenhe Series, designed primarily for Indigenous audiences.

Smoking the Baby documentary – 2001

Smoking the Baby demonstrates an Indigenous ritual that helps children and mothers fend off illness.

Whispering in Our Hearts documentary – 2001

Remembering those who were murdered in the 1918 massacre of Aboriginal people at Mowla Bluff is very much to do with healing.

Big Girls Don’t Cry documentary – 2002

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

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

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.

Trespass documentary – 2002

Trespass revisits the Mirarr people’s fight against the uranium mines in Jabiluka. Yvonne Margarula is arrested for walking on her own land.

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.

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 – 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 – 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.

Time Bomb documentary – 2003

A time bomb’ is how Frank Djara, a diabetic and the first male health worker in Areyonga, refers to living with diabetes.

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.

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.

Mparntwe Sacred Sites documentary – 2004

This documentary about Mparntwe (Alice Springs) provides a history of the region and the journey of the ancestral beings that gave Mparntwe its form.

Rosie documentary – 2004

Rosie, a member of the Stolen Generations, started to search for her parents because ‘part of me was still missing’.

Sammy Butcher, Out of the Shadows documentary – 2004

Musician Sammy Butcher played with the Warumpi Band and now invests his energy in young musicians in his community of Papunya.

Warren H Williams, the stories, the songs documentary – 2004

Inspired by his musical family, Arrernte musician Warren H Williams became a singer-songwriter himself.

Wirriya: Small Boy documentary – 2004

A warm account of family narrated by eight-year-old Ricco, who lives with his foster mother in an Indigenous Australian town camp near Alice Springs.

The Art of Healing documentary – 2005

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

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.

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.

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.

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