The Sapphires.
The Sapphires. Black Swan State Theatre Company

RE-VIEW: Time to face our own reality

Re-View, with Matt Murphy: The DEX columnist

SO it's NAIDOC week and time to celebrate films by or about Indigenous Australians.

Although initially staged as a protest more than 75 years ago, NAIDOC has evolved into a celebration of Indigenous arts and culture.

Is there an abundance of films by Indigenous filmmakers? Certainly not many that have entered the mainstream Australian consciousness. But that's hard enough for any Australian movie.

Recently directors such as Ivan Sen (Mystery Road), Wayne Blair (The Sapphires) and Warwick Thornton (Samson and Delilah) have all touched on commercial and critical success and are bound for larger success both here and abroad. I think the so-called 'majority', struggle to embrace Indigenous stories past and present even more than the rest of the struggling Australian film content because it takes us to dark and depressing places where it's either overwhelming guilt at these snapshots of our history or incomprehensible disbelief that these issues remain. For the most part, the audience wants escapism and suspension of reality. Unfortunately for these stories, it doesn't come more real than Indigenous issues.

Television, however, is certainly showing more diversity in drama and comedy - on non-commercial channels mind you. Aboriginal talent is at the forefront of shows such as Redfern Now, The First Australians, Black Humour and 8MMM.

The recently formed NITV channel also gives a creative starting point for young artists and broadens our viewing options. One of the most recognisable features of Indigenous culture is their abundant tradition of story telling and mythology.

Now if we can just move these varied stories and skills further into the mainstream, I think we all will be richer for it.

5 'Indigenous' Films to savour

  • Walkabout(1971)
  • The Last Wave(1977)
  • The Chant of Jimmy Blacksmith(1978)
  • The Tracker(2002)
  • Samson and Delilah(2009)

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