Once upon a time, around about a couple of months ago, I decided to subject my mother to a course of study on Indigenous Australians in cinema. Being an obliging sort of woman, she agreed to humour me. In this post I will outline my plan and in future posts, I hope to include some of her thoughts.
I have a rather extensive book collection and could have inflicted that on my dear mother, but I chose cinema as it's one of the most accessible types of media; after all 'everyone' watches TV and movies!
The Indigenous genre has been chosen not only because it's a favoured topic of mine, but because all Australians could do with learning more about those who have been here for tens of thousands of years. And if you, Dear Reader, are not Australian, you might like to explore this topic anyway, given these are the world's oldest continuous cultures.
We start with the 'First Australians' series (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/First_Australians) to provide an overview of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander history since European Settlement. The seven episodes cover Indigenous history since white settlement in an approximately chronological way. The information presented is drawn from primary sources and shows several different people interpreting and reflecting on those sources, it also shows several different 'experiences of colonisation' to provide context later. This series is rated PG- parental guidance is recommended for children under 15 years.
If I was putting together a history syllabus I would certainly include books and other documentaries to fill in some important gaps such as the Myall Creek Massacre (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Myall_Creek_massacre) which for a long time was believed to be the first time Europeans were brought to justice for killing Aboriginal people and the British Nuclear tests at Maralinga (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/British_nuclear_tests_at_Maralinga), however our focus here is different.
Now, having watched the 'First Australians' and have a knowledge base to work from, we can move onto the movies! After a great deal of searching I came across a page on the Creative Spirits (http://www.creativespirits.info/resources/movies/) site that seems to name every film depicting Indigenous Australians broken up into a list of those directed by Aboriginal people and those by non-Aboriginal people.
As we will have already looked at the history chronologically, rather than show the films in the order of time they depict, we will watch them in the order that they were made. This will allow us to focus on how Indigenous people are being depicted over time and allowing discussions around themes, mainstream cultural change and empowerment of film makers, as well as elements within the films themselves.
Below is the list I have collated with notation as to what form I have found them in. Some of the harder DVDs to find are available through Ronin Films (http://www.roninfilms.com.au/) and/or the Australian National Film and Sound Archive shop (http://shop.nfsa.gov.au/). The films range from 'Stoner Comedy' through to realistic drama with lots of swearing, so you may like to look at the IMDB or Wikipedia page/s if your audience is young and/or not a fan of coarse language or 'adult themes':
Uncivilised 1936 - Download - Rated M
Jedda 1955 - DVD - Rated G
Walkabout 1971 - DVD - Rated R 18+
Mad Dog Morgan 1976 - Download - Rated R 18+
Storm Boy 1976 - Download - Rated G
The Last Wave 1977 - Download - Rated PG
Backroads 1977 - Download - Rated MA 15+
The Chant of JB 1978 - DVD - Rated R 18+
The Right Stuff 1983 - Download - Rated PG
Where the Green Ants Dream 1984 - Download - Rated R 18+
Crocodile Dundee 1986 - Download - Rated PG
Babakiueria 1986 - Youtube - Rated PG
The Fringe Dwellers 1987 - Download - Rated PG
Tudawali 1987 - DVD - Rated M
Night Cries 1990 - DVD - Rated G
Blackfellas 1993 - DVD - Rated MA 15+
Serenades 2001 - DVD - Rated M
Yolngu Boy 2001 - Youtube - Rated MA 15+
Australian Rules 2002 - DVD - Rated MA 15+
Beneath the Clouds 2002 - Youtube - Rated M
Rabbit Proof Fence 2002 - Download - Rated PG
Cold Turkey 2002 - DVD - Rated PG
The Tracker 2002 - DVD - Rated M
Green Bush 2005 - DVD - Rated PG
Jindabyne 2006 - DVD - Rated M
Call Me Mum 2006 - DVD - Rated PG
Ten Canoes 2006 - DVD - Rated M
Australia 2008 - Download - Rated PG
Bungalung 2007 - DVD - Rated PG
Bran Nue Dae 2009 - Download - Rated PG
Samson & Delilah 2009 - Download - Rated MA 15+
Stone Bros 2009 - Download - Rated MA 15+
Mad Bastards 2010 - Download - Rated MA 15+
Toomelah 2011 - DVD - Rated MA 15+
Satellite Boy 2012 - DVD - Rated PG
The Sapphires 2012 - DVD - Rated PG
Mabo 2012 - Youtube - Rated G
Mystery Road 2013 - Download - Rated MA 15+
The Darkside 2013 - Not Yet Released - Rated M
Charlie's Country 2013 - DVD - Rated M
Around the Block 2013 - Not Yet Released - Rated M
Having now explored Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Cinema from pre-WWII until today, looking at films made by both Indigenous and non-Indigenous people, we will then look specifically at how First Australians are depicting themselves in television by watching both seasons of 'Redfern Now.' (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Redfern_Now) This will allow conversation about differences in convention between film and television, about the different experiences of Indigenous people - even those who live in the same area - as well as relationships between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians within the modern, urban context. This will be followed by Gods of Wheat Street (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Gods_of_Wheat_Street) which combines elements of stage and television writing, Aboriginal experience and references to antiquity.
Next in the series
Bock may be found cruising around Victoria, Australia when he is not making terribly insightful comments about Australian politics and societal issues on social media. Remember, if you Twitter and drive, you're a bloody idiot.
(Author bio delicately written by his sister so she could stop politely requesting him to do it.)