Celebrating Indigenous Screen Stories

Yengwah You’re in good company here boy! Well, what are we waiting for? When a First Nations story is told through celluloid, there’s a wonderful potency about the spirit of it. It awakens your consciousness and you’re connected. When we use that word ‘deadly’… it usually means something’s good. That’s the deadliest thing anyone has ever said to me. It’s to be constantly reminded of your community and who you are and not to be disconnected from that. Now that’s power. Some of the best cinema in Australia is coming from Indigenous people and it’s internationally regarded. That reflects a 20 year process of the government working with Indigenous people to invest in Indigenous talent. The Indigenous Department give Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples a voice
and an opportunity to showcase our culture, our stories, our history They definitely nurture talent… always on the hunt for new stories, new storytellers. Ahh that’s got your attention! Screen Australia’s Indigenous Department has been really important for me. They’ve really supported all of my development as a filmmaker and it’s really that strong support that helps Indigenous stories to thrive. They can connect you with relevant people to help your project come to life. Nowhere else in the world do you have this kind of government support. For actors, for black writers, producers, directors. It’s to encourage and develop Indigenous voices in this country. What’s wrong? Prior to the early 1980’s, Indigenous people didn’t have access to being in control of the camera. Films were made about us… They got any blackfellas down there? With the movement towards self determination, empowerment, Indigenous people took control of the medium. I know who you are and you know what you are. Sand to Celluloid was the first Indigenous short drama series, which came about over 20 years ago. It was an amazing catalyst and a starting point for a whole generation of Indigenous filmmakers. Screen Australia has opened every door for me and has supported me. I’ve been so privileged. I hear you got something you wanna say to me. You fellas were up to something pretty special out there. They’ve allowed me to be in situations where I can be motivated, can believe in myself, can not have doubt. They provided a way to talk with people and to encourage my confidence and skills that exist in me already. I’ve been able to make documentaries. I’ve been able to make drama. I’ve been able to be a DoP (director of photography) and shoot and they’ve supported all of that. We are family! Now and forever! We really try to find in Australia ‘What is our identity as people?’ The black filmmakers and the black stories have grounded that identity all the way through. This is my country right here. As a young filmmaker, we’ve got pathways to progress. Australia is Aboriginal country and from a cultural perspective, we need to be able to tell these stories. There’s a lot of people out there with different attitudes and different ideas all wanting to tell stories and all wanting to make movies. It’s changed the nature of how we see Indigenous people in this country. We need to keep striving to create more and more filmmakers, to support more filmmakers. There’s so much happening that it just feels like it’s never going to stop and I hope it never does stop.

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