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Australian Government


Reconciling the Nation 2000s
A number of Indigenous films were broadcast by SBS as part of Unfinished Business:
Reconciling the Nation in the year 2000.

Since Unfinished Business, SBS in partnership with the Adelaide Festival has helped to produce
a number of film that address Indigenous issues and experience including: Yolngu Boy
(Johnson 2000), Australian Rules (Goldman 2002), The Tracker (de Heer 2002) and Beneath
Clouds (Sen 2002).

Director Rachel Perkins film One Night the Moon (2001) uses haunting songs and music to tells
the true story of white parents who refuse to use a black tracker to find their lost child.

Beneath Clouds uses the road movie format to explore what it means to be Indigenous in
contemporary Australia. Beneath Clouds is Sen's first feature length film. He wrote, directed and
composed for the film and won the 2002 Best Achievement in Directing AFI award. This
achievement is made more significant by the fact that 2002 was the same year veteran film
director Phillip Noyce was nominated for Rabbit Proof Fence.

Rabbit Proof Fence (Noyce 2002) was based on the true story of Molly Craig and her sisters'
escape after being forcibly taken from their family and taken to a distant Native Settlement.
Rabbit Proof Fence lays bare Australia's racist past. It is a telling development that so many
Australians are now willing to embrace films with an Indigenous focus and to identify with
Indigenous characters, even if this means siding against the white characters.

The 2006 Adelaide Festival helped fund and hosted the world premiere of Ten Canoes (de Heer
2006). It is Australia's first feature film to be made entirely in an Aboriginal language (although
narrated in English).

Ten Canoes occurs both in the present and the past, portraying the Yolngu relationship to land
and stories as an ongoing experience. The setting and central story are parts of David Gulpilil's
country and traditional stories. Gulpilil was heavily involved in Ten Canoes behind the scenes as
well as featuring in the film as the storyteller. Ten Canoes has been successful internationally
winning a number of awards including a special jury prize at the Cannes International Film
Festival in 2006.

Warick Thorntons Cannes award winning Samson and Delilah (2009),takes a stark look at life
in Alice Springs' desert communities and out-stations for two teenagers. Without bludgeoning
audiences with a moral, Samson and Delilah spotlights people for whom there is no 'track', no
place of relative opportunity.
Australian Government


Unfinished business Mabo and musicals

Over the past hundred years or so, the representation of Indigenous Australians has broadened,
including complex and varied portrayals of both issues and characters. The increase in
Indigenous people working behind the scenes in film has also been an important development,
both providing a means of expression and aiding reconciliation.

Mainstream television, notably ABC and SBS, broadcast or help produce more films that
address Aboriginal issues and experiences and what it means to be Aboriginal in contemporary
Australia. The joint initiative between SBS and the former Australian Film Commission, Bit of
Black Business (2007), funded five minute long dramas 'that explore individual notions and
experiences of contemporary Black 'Business'.

Set on the west coast of Australia in 1969, Bran Nue Dae (2010) is a road movie, a coming of
age comedy musical which celebrates the adventure of finding home. Adapted from a musical
written by Jimmy Chi, the film screen play was written by Rachel Perkins and Reg Cribb. It
starred Aboriginal actors Ernie Dingo, Deborah Mailman, Jessica Mauboy and Ningili Lawford.

Rachel Perkins film Mabo (2012) is a telemovie that chronicles Torres Strait Islander Eddie
Mabos ten-year battle with the High Court to overturn the concept of terra nullius and recognise
native title in Australia.

The Sapphires (2012) directed by Wayne Blair is set in 1969 and tells the story of the McCrae
sisters, four Aboriginal singers from country Victoria whose biggest dream is to become as
famous as their Motown idols. The film is an adaptation of the stage musical, where four
talented singers from a remote Aboriginal mission are discovered by an unlikely talent scout.
Plucked from obscurity and branded as Australias answer to The Supremes, The Sapphires
grasp the chance of a lifetime when theyre offered their first real gig entertaining the troops in

The film took $14.47 million at the box office in 2012, putting it into 14th place of the most
successful Australian films and the biggest Australian film of 2012.

In a relatively short space of time, Australian films have jumped from depicting Indigenous
peoples through racist clichs to Indigenous creatives using film and television to document
their cultures, promote social change and to entertain, thus entering the mainstream...

Films like Perkinss Bran Nue Dae (2010) and Thortons Samson and Delilah (2009) cast
Indigenous characters in the lead roles and set their stories within an Indigenous community
and cultural context. In doing so these filmmakers have completely repositioned the
on-screen presence of Indigenous characters, taking them from peripheral to central roles.

A Short History of Indigenous Filmmaking