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Nice Coloured Girls (1987)


This short film is about three Indigenous women and their night out at Kings Cross.

Curator’s notes

Nice Coloured Girls is the first film from visual artist and filmmaker Tracey Moffatt. It focuses on the sexual relations between Aboriginal women and white men, skilfully telling a story of historicity about how sexuality has played a role in the colonisation of Australia that continues into the present.

Nice Coloured Girls uses voice-over narration drawn from historic biographical accounts of white male authors about their interaction with Aboriginal women. Moffatt combines the readings with a visual depiction of modern Aboriginal women picking up 'captains’ – or white men – that they 'kid up’ to finance their night out. The narration describes an increasing awareness by Aboriginal women on how to use sexuality to win favour or extract payment from their admirers and is intercut with footage of the 'nice coloured girls’ in Kings Cross. Through juxtaposition of the voice-over and visuals, Moffatt manages to convey with simplicity historically complex phenomena about colonialism and sexuality.

Nice Coloured Girls effectively takes the taboo subject of sexual relationships between whites and Aborigines and dares to talk about the role these 'arrangements’ have played in Australian history. It does not show Aboriginal women as victims in this transaction, but instead how women have concisely exploited male desire. The tongue-in-cheek title, Nice Coloured Girls, positions Aboriginal women as being perceived as naïve and 'nice’ but, as the soundtrack suggests, these are merely roles played by the women.

Tracey Moffatt is one of Australia’s most successful visual artists and is credited as being the first Aboriginal woman to make a feature film. Moffatt prefers to be addressed as an 'artist’ rather than an 'Aboriginal artist’. Her other audiovisual work includes Night Cries: A Rural Tragedy (1989), BeDevil (1993), Heaven (1997) and Lip (1999). Moffatt’s photographic works include Something More (1989), Scarred for Life (1994), GUAPA (Good Looking) (1995), Up in the Sky (1997), Under the Sign of Scorpio (2005), Portraits (2007) and Doomed (2007), a collaboration with Gary Hillberg. A retrospective of Tracey Moffatt’s work opened at the Museum of Contemporary Art in 2003.