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Bit of Black Business – The Turtle (2007)


Jason (Gregory Cross) is no longer a small boy. His mother has sent him to his grandfather (Kelton Pell) to experience a different way of life.

Curator’s notes

The Turtle is a first film for writer-director Kelli Cross. Filmed at Shark Bay, Western Australia, by cinematographer Eric Murray Lui, we get a glimpse of this special place with its magnificent contrasts of red cliffs and turquoise water. Gregory Cross is a convincing first-time actor and also the nephew of the film’s director. Sound design is by Liam Egan.

Jason is returning to the small coastal town where his father grew up. In the room where he initially hibernates is a varnished turtle shell, all that’s left of his father’s belongings. His Pop (Kelton Pell) is his guardian and also a custodian of culture and hospitality, but Jason doesn’t show any interest in him, escaping into music instead. The lyrics of Australian rapper Dazastah explain his mindset: 'I’m driftin’ away, I’m watchin’ as life goes by…’ When his grandfather takes him out for a turtle hunt at Little Lagoon, Jason gains a sense of empowerment and starts to emerge from his shell.

The Turtle was produced by Kath Shelper as part of the Bit of Black Business initiative by the Indigenous unit of the AFC, and premiered at the 2007 Message Sticks Indigenous Film Festival in Sydney.