Saturday, 21 June 2014

Introduction to Indigenous Australians in Cinema 1936-2014

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 ( 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 ( 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 (, 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 ( 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 ( and/or the Australian National Film and Sound Archive shop ( 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.' ( 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 ( 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.)


  1. How much do you think you spent on these resources? I'm wondering about prioritising for those on a budget.

  2. Rosie, I've gone back and checked out where the films are available from - I've included a free option and a paid option as far as possible, perhaps we can tidy it up and either add it to the original blog post or add it as the second in the series?

    For the free option I've prioritised YouTube over Torrents because the former is actually legal.

    For the paid option I've generally sought prices from JB HiFi or Amazon only - cheaper options may be available.

    Different people have different ethics when it comes to paying or getting content for free, I'll leave it up to them.

    All costs shown are in Australian Dollars and were correct at the time of publishing...

    All episodes of First Australians can be watched free here:

    In case that is geo-blocked, it is also available from YouTube here:

    Or via (JB) for $37.99

    Uncivilised can be viewed via YouTube here:

    I've not been able to find it on DVD.

    I have only found Jedda for sale ($34.95) on DVD via the National Film & Sound Archive (NFSA):

    I'm not sure how the pay-walled content on YouTube works, but it seems you can watch Walkabout "from $3.99" here:

    Via torrent or purchase the DVD from JB for $13.99

    Mad Dog Morgan can be viewed on YouTube here:

    Or purchase from JB for $23.99

    Storm Boy is also available via YouTube. For free here:

    Or (in case that link is removed) listed as "from $3.99" here:

    Or purchased from JB for $6.98

    I can only find The Last Wave via Torrent

    Backroads is available via YouTube here:

    Or from JB for $18.99

    The Chant of Jimmie Blacksmith (might need to correct the spelling on the blog post of this one) is available via YouTube here:

    Or from the NFSA for $16.95

    I can only find The Right Stuff via torrent.

    Where the Green Ants Dream is available via torrent.

    Or for $17.99 through Amazon.

    Crocodile Dundee is available via YouTube - albeit poor quality - here:

    Or can be "rented" or purchased from Amazon for as little as $2.99

  3. Babakiueria is available via YouTube here:

    Or from JB for $18.99

    The Fringe Dwellers is available via YouTube here:

    Or second hand on Amazon for varying prices.

    Tudawali seems only available via DVD - JB has it for $23.99

    Night Cries is available via Ronin Films for $34.95 (location dependant)

    Blackfellas is available from JB for $18.99

    I can only find Serenades via torrent.

    Yolngu Boy is available via YouTube here:

    Or from JB for $12.98

    Australian Rules is available on YouTube "from $3.99" here:

    Via torrent or from Amazon for $20

    Beneath Clouds (name also needs to be corrected on the blog post) is available on YouTube here:

    Or can be "rented" or purchased from Amazon starting from $2.99

    Rabbit Proof Fence can be viewed on YouTube "from $3.99" here:

    Via torrent.

    Or "rented" or purchased from Amazon starting from $2.99

    Cold Turkey can be Torrented

    Or purchased for $49.95 from Ronin Films

    The Tracker is available on YouTube here:

    Or from Amazon starting at $28.88

    Green Bush is available through Ronin Films for $49.95

    Jindabyne is available on YouTube "from $3.99" here:

    Via torrent

    Or from JB for $9.98

    Call Me Mum is available from Ronin Films for $49.95

    Ten Canoes is available on YouTube for free here:

    On YouTube "from $3.99" here:

    Or from Amazon from $11.73

    Australia can be "rented" or purchased from Amazon from $2.99

    Or Torrented

    Bungalung is available from Ronin Films for $49.95

    Bran Nue Dae is available from YouTube "from $3.99" here:

    From JB for $12.98

    Or via torrent

    Samson and Delilah is available on YouTube "from $3.99" here:

    Via torrent

    Or from JB for $13.99

    Stone Bros is available from JB for $23.99 or via torrent.

    Mad Bastards can be viewed on YouTube "from $3.99" here:

    can be Torrented

    Or purchased from JB for $9.98

    Toomelah is available via torrent or from JB for $23.98

    Mabo is available on YouTube here:

    Or from JB for $18.98

    Satellite Boy is available via YouTube here:

    Or from JB for $21.99

    The Sapphires is available on YouTube "from $3.99" here:

    Can be Torrented

    Or purchased from JB for $9.98

    Mystery Road is available from YouTube here:

    or from JB for $15.98

    Redfern Now seasons 1 &2 are available from JB for $28.98 each

    Only a few episodes from each season are available via torrent.

    Gods of Wheat Street season 1 is available as a torrent.

    It's for sale from JB for $24.98

    If you wanted to watch every one of these films and TV shows it would cost between $320 and $824 (not including the unreleased films).

    Whilst it's difficult to say which to prioritise without having watched them all already, I think that if money is the concern then if you only watch what is available for free (even if it's just the YouTube ones) you'd still get a pretty good overview.