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Martuwarra (The Fitzroy River)
Environment, History, Human Rights, Indigenous, Social Justice
Fitzroy River is a powerful documentary about the coming together of Indigenous cultural and western scientific knowledge in efforts to understand and protect one of Australia’s last great rivers. To most, the concept of the serpent as a creator being and the idea of the Dreamtime are thought of as mythical events in the distant past. Yet as western science begins to unlock the secrets of the ancient landscapes of Australia we find that these tales are far from folklore, and in fact carry great significance to understanding the landscapes, ecology and culture of Australia. The knowledge of the rainbow serpent is alive in indigenous cultures across Australia; it is painted on walls, symbolized in stone structures and still sung to the landscape by the holders of the cultural traditions that date back far longer than any other civilization on Earth. The people of the river have struggled to preserve this knowledge through the trials of colonization, and the many atrocities and systematic attempts to break their culture that have transpired since; and it remains strong today. In 2011, the significance of this tradition to the Kimberley region of Australia was recognized by the National Heritage Listing of the Fitzroy River for its outstanding example of the rainbow serpent tradition across multiple language groups. Now, despite the heritage listing, the Fitzroy River is coming under threat as Murray-Darling style irrigated agriculture is proposed along its banks. The developments are a threat to the culture that survives along this river, its natural beauty and its unique ecology that includes being the last great stronghold for the critically endangered freshwater sawfish. Traditional owners recognized these threats and called for protection, and a role for cultural governance in managing the river, in the historic 2016 Fitzroy River Declaration. To understand these cultural traditions, their relevance today and the threat they are under, we travel to the Fitzroy River in the Kimberley. Here we meet traditional owners who tell us about the river, its history, culture and traditions, and spiritual significance. We meet scientists who are finding that their emerging understanding of the river aligns with the lessons of the ancient cultural Lore. We see the unique wildlife of the river, including the mighty sawfish that has lived since the time of the dinosaurs. We see the outstanding natural beauty and ephemeral spirituality of the river in its many moods; from serene dawn, to raging torrent in the wet season, to the tree-lined pools where life hangs on when the river dries and waits for the rains to return. This is a film about the struggle to preserve an ancient culture and the river in which it resides, but it is also more. This story is a window into understanding the first cultures of Australia, and how wisdom collected over of tens of thousands of years has relevance to how we live with our landscapes and ecosystems today.
Arts, Community, Education, Environment, Health & Wellbeing, Human Rights, Indigenous, Social Justice, Youth
Storykeepers is a celebration of an extraordinary individual, Boori Monty Pryor, who throughout his life has risen against the odds to become a celebrated author and storyteller. Growing up as an Aboriginal kid, dodging the cops in Townsville, Boori was asked by a school teacher what he wanted to do when he grew up; ‘stay alive’ was his response. When his brother Paul chose to take his own life, Boori cast aside his own deep anguish, and took on the work his brother had started as a cultural storyteller, performer and teacher. Three decades later Boori has worked with more than a million children in classrooms all over the country and written a bunch of award winning books. His books, including the biography Maybe Tomorrow, have moved the hardest of hearts, and wherever he goes Boori meets his audiences with humour, love and inclusivity. Storykeepers goes on the road with Boori to see him at work and play, performing in front of thousands of people around Australia. Spiraling deeply into the stories and sharing the heartbreak, love and humour that sit behind them, Storykeepers takes viewers into the heart of the man and the heart of the country, in new and groundbreaking ways. In watching Boori share his stories we are constantly asking what it means to be Australian. As Director Hayden Layton observes, “As a white young man, I was surprised to find we have such a large wealth of beauty to be proud of, so much waiting for us all to love, celebrate and to be proud of in this country’s culture. Where were was this when I was growing up?” With unfettered access to Boori, his family, the schools he visits and the people he works with, Storykeepers is able to delve deeply into the stories and their source. We hear about the barefoot kid with seven sisters who grew up in the mangroves and we see the man that he has become – a multi award winning author and storyteller. We see also the profound impact the stories have on audiences of young and old alike, we see the hunger for people to connect experience and culture through story and Boori’s extraordinary ability to facilitate this. While Storykeepers explores concepts that are often highly politicised and can be confronting, we endeavour to approach a conversation on our national Identity in a open and inclusive way. Rather than constructing a traditional didactic piece with many talking heads, this documentary will be playful, energetic and creative. It will move through time, space and form mixing up fly-on-the-wall accounts and intimate reflections artfully spliced with interviews and 20 years of unreleased writing and spoken word poetry alongside animated and live action sequences. It will appeal to a broad audience and spark a desire in people creatively embrace a new identity. We hope to this documentary will start conversations between the young and the old, the recently arrived and the people who’ve lived here for over 40 thousand years.
Community, Education, Environment, History, Rural, Social Justice, Youth
Without farmers we’d be starving, naked and homeless. We want women on farms around Australia to proudly declare ‘I am a farmer’. - Invisible Farmer ProjectSallie Jones, 36, did not always see herself as a ‘farmer’. Growing up on the family’s dairy farm she loved working with her mum and grandmother alongside her dad. Getting up at the crack of dawn to milk the cows and going until sunset, they all shared the load. But it was her dad’s role to be the farmer. She never questioned it, until tragedy struck. Australia’s dairy crisis hit hard. Her father died. It changed everything.Sallie had to step forward and become the farmer, become ‘visible’. And by sharing her story she found other women who showed her that farmers could be female and successful. One turbulent later, Sallie has become an advocate for a sustainable dairy industry and with her business partner she runs a thriving milk label that stands for positive change: “Farming isn’t what it used to be – I’m just on this crazy journey and it’s very exciting.”Farming has always relied on women taking responsibility just as much as the men, but they hardly get the credit. It wasn’t until Sallie was a teenager, in 1994, that Australia even recognised women’s legal status as farmers, instead of domestics, helpmates or farmers' wives.Women make up 50% of the rural workforce, they generate half of all farm income. Yet google Australian farmer and 90% of all images show middle-aged men. At a time when agriculture is facing a double whammy – a serious shortfall of skilled workers and pressure to produce more food for a growing population – half of its potential leaders are largely overlooked.It’s time to put a spotlight on the hidden face of agriculture.The Invisible Farmer Project is the largest ever study of Australian women on the land, revealing their many untold stories and the vital, innovative role they play. For the first time it gives our female farmers a contemporary, authentic voice. A voice to inspire more women to take charge and help shape the future of sustainable food production for all Australians.This 3-year study (2017-2020) is funded by the Australian Research Council and headed by Museums Victoria in a nation-wide partnership with rural communities and top ranking institutions.(In)Visible Farmer, the film project, joins forces with the study, criss-crossing the country to discover the extraordinary achievements of the women behind our food and fibre. This multi-platform production has two stages: first, while the study is ongoing, we produce a series of 15 short film portraits for the project’s digital platforms. Second, after its conclusion in 2020, we produce a long-form documentary for national TV and the project’s extensive outreach campaigns.From remote outback stations to urban market gardens, it’s a journey to challenge and change our perception of who a farmer is.