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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, Health & Wellbeing, History, Human Rights, Indigenous, Social Justice
Over 40,000 years of culture. A celebration of spirit, land and wisdom that connects us all, KANYINI is a sacred principle of unconditional love and responsibility to all things. It is a principle that underpins Aboriginal Indigenous life, linking four main areas of responsibility:Tjukurrpa (philosophy, Law and religion)Ngura (country – land)Waltytja (family and kinship)Kurunpa (spirit, soul and psyche) KANYINI the film chronicles the experiences of respected Central Australian Indigenous Elder and Stolen Generation survivor “Uncle” Bob Randall as he communicates the concept of Kanyini to Australians via his personal story to ‘whitefella’ filmmaker Melanie Hogan. Told with passion, political insight, dignity and warmth, this is not only a story of one man and his people but the story of the human race that draws on notions of caring, support, nurturing, and responsibility. In the original film (Produced and Released in 2006) Randall tells of his experiences in his own words and paints a fascinating and troubling portrait of two cultures in conflict occupying the same land. We are now twelve years on. Uncle Bob Randall sadly passed away in 2015 and with full support from Uncle Bob’s family and community, KANYINI - The Film, is to set to be re-released with a new introduction from Uncle Bob’s daughter Dorethea presenting the film in the context of today’s cultural and political context.Oneness. Life is Spirit. Spirit is Life. With a significant shift in cultural consciousness over these last 12 years, Uncle Bob’s message is more pertinent than ever. It is about walking together in harmony with understanding, respect and pride. It is about creating a friendship, and a channel of two-way learning so that as a country and a group of people on this land, we can go deeper. Deeper into understanding and accepting our collective history so as to be proud of our land, our unique history, our foundations and move forward to heal more deeply as a nation.“It is only through understanding the way our past has shaped our present, that we create a better future allowing Indigenous and non indigenous cultures to truly come together and reconnect with the land” Uncle Bob Randall.