Breath of Life: moments in transit towards Aboriginal Sovereignty
About the film
Breath of Life: moments in transit towards Aboriginal Sovereignty is an epic story of two cultures colliding: one, the oldest living culture in the world and born of the land; and the other, the newcomers to this continent who never ‘came the right way’.
The urgent quest is for the humanity, now living within the land, to find wholeness again and avoid violent conflict, which has happened too many times in human history. The challenge is for the creative minds to find the diplomatic way to resolve these tensions and bring humanity forward on a united path. This is the inside story of the David and Goliath struggle for a healing treaty or peace accord, an Australian solution that enables our children to walk together equally on the same path, while honouring diversity.
In 1972 Kevin Gilbert and Michael Anderson, with a handful of activists, ignite a spark, which begins the Aboriginal Tent Embassy in Canberra. It rekindles the passion within the struggle of resistance and the quest for justice and sovereignty. Breath of Life follows respected grassroots advocates for positive change into rural, remote and urban communities across Australia. It breathes with them, capturing their creative intelligence, pain, courage and sheer determination for their truth to be heard, including insights into the global Indigenous movement in the United Nations.
Breath of Life is the raw story told by the people, exposing how and why the current processes continually fail Aboriginal Peoples’ aspirations. In the words of Gough Whitlam, ‘…all of us as Australians are diminished while the Aborigines are denied their rightful place in this nation.’ The solo verite documentary style creates a dramatic connectedness based on the premise that the ‘Land and the People are One’.
The prophetic voice of visionary Kevin Gilbert (1933-1993), recorded in poems and speeches, is an inspiration for others to relay the baton for the cause to which he dedicated his life.
Funding amount Sought
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Length of Production
Stage of Production
How does the project meet the aims of a philanthropic foundation?
Breath of life explores the core of the Aboriginal rights movement and continues from where the reconciliation movement seems to stop. The film captures the breath-taking sagas of struggle and survival against enormous odds, while honoring the creative intelligence of the protagonist team. It is exposing a story that is ignored by mainstream media, which seems to prefer to perpetuate the negative stereotypes of Aboriginal people.
This feature is a sequel to the highly successful Visions of Australia traveling photographic exhibition Breath of Life, which traveled Australia and overseas to London and CHOGM in Durban, South Africa, where it made an impact in diplomatic and NGO circles.
The filmmaker comprehends the enormity of the task ahead. Her belief in the power of film to effect social change is the driving force behind this labour of love.
Support from philanthropy will enable the Breath of Life team to secure the high license fees for archival footage and complete production.
What outcomes do you hope to achieve by making this film and how will you measure its impact?
The aim of Breath of Life is to create the conceptual framework through which positive social change can be effected, so that Aboriginal Peoples can take their rightful place in this land free from oppression and “disadvantage”.
Our aim is to enlighten the mainstream population with more of an understanding of the lack of human rights and jeopardy many Aboriginal communities are in, so that this film is a step on the way to a negotiated treaty, which would form a proper foundation for all people in this land.
Breath of Life can contribute to understanding and building self-esteem in order to reduce the appalling social indicators in the Aboriginal world, including one of the highest youth suicide rates globally. After all, Aboriginal languages, cultures and story places are the oldest in the world and within Australian society is the potential for proper Respect.
What is your education and outreach strategy
Breath of Life is a feature documentary of universal appeal for theatrical release. It’s niche audience is the Aboriginal movement but its setting within the global Indigenous movement creates international interest. I intend to enter the film in the 2013 Sundance Film festival to increase its international exposure.
Andrew Pike of Ronin Films is keen to distribute to the education market, so the film will be on library shelves for years to come and every year a new crop of students will have the opportunity to see Breath of Life. In addition, it can be reversioned for TV broadcast.
Enlightning can arrange screenings at community meetings and gatherings and make downloads available over the internet.
Enlightning Productions already has the domain names www.enlightning.tv and registered and intends to build a specific website. At present www.wgar.info would carry extracts.
Who are the filmmakers responsible for the project?
Eleanor Gilbert of Enlightning Productions is a key member of the team responsible for Breath of Life. Eleanor married Kevin Gilbert (1933-1993) the award winning writer and fighter for Aboriginal rights.
“I had the best teacher and am very well connected to the Aboriginal community. I have been visually recording the grassroots struggle for justice, for decades and am a bridge between two worlds colliding."
The team includes Oscar-winning co-producer, Michael Donovan, of Halifax Film, Canada. Michael brings extensive experience and can generate international interest in this ground-breaking documentary. Belinda Pratten of freeswimmers is an ACT co-producer.
Breath of Life also includes resources from the National Film and Sound Archive, the Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies, the National Archives of Australia, the National Library and TV news footage, which add historical dimensions and lasting value.