Indigenous TV Series and Movies to Binge this Easter

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander readers are advised that the following article may contain images and information of people who have passed.

With COVID -19 still amongst us, many of us haven’t been able to make big holiday plans this Easter. As such, we’ve gathered another list of incredible Indigenous movies and TV shows for you to watch this Easter. If you haven’t already, take a look at our previous post “10 Indigenous Australian Films to Watch'' here. In this list we also feature some amazing Indigenous TV series ranging from sketch comedy to drama and featuring traditional languages. These shows and movies showcase the amazing creative talent of Indigenous producers, directors, writers and actors. So snuggle up and begin some amazing viewing.

Cleverman

Cleverman S2. Courtesy of ABC, 2017. 

This series combines supernatural themes, horror and speculative fiction as well as Dreaming stories and culture. It reflects current issues within our society such as border protection and asylum seekers. A conflicted society struggles to co-exist with the “dangerous” subhuman creatures, Haries. Two estranged brothers, Koen and Waruu West, are forced to come together to stop the bloodshed between humans and hairies, as Koen learns to harness his powers as Cleverman. Cleverman explores inner-city Indigenous life and modern Australian politics. The impressive cast includes Hunter Page-Lochard, Deborah Mailman, Tasma Walton, Rob Collins, Rarriwuy Hick, Jack Charles and Iain Glen (Screen Australia, 2020).

Available on: iTunes

Redfern Now 

Redfern Now. Courtesy of ABC Commercial, 2021. 

A ground-breaking ABC TV series that centres around the lives of six Indigenous Australian families living in “The Block'' in the Sydney inner-city suburb, Redfern. The drama explores issues of mental health, fractured families, relationships and neighbourhood disputes through powerful stories. Redfern Now is the first Indigenous drama series on Australian TV and is the first television series to be commissioned, written, acted and produced by Indigneous Australians. Produced by Blackfella Films and directed by some of Australia’s most celebrated creatives including Rachel Perkins, Catriona McKenzie, Wayne Blair and Leah Purcell. The series has also received a number of AACTA and Logie awards.

Available on: Stan

Mystery Road 

Mystery Road Series 1. Courtesy of Amazon, 2018.

Mystery Road the series is a spin off from Ivan Sen’s Feature films Mystery Road and Goldstone. The neo-Western directed by Rachel Perkins follows actor Aaron Pederson in his role as Akubra-wearing detective Jay Swan who is called in by local cop Emma James (Judy Davis) to investigate the mysterious disappearance of two young farm hands on an outback cattle station. The show follows small-town politics as Jays peels back the layers of the seemingly idyllic town and challenges complex power dynamics within the local Aboriginal community. Mystery Road boasts an excellent cast including Wayne Blair, Ernie Dingo, Deborah Mailman, Ningali Lawfor-Wolf, Meyne Wyatt and John Waters. Filmed in East Kimberly, the series also includes incredible cinematography of this beautiful landscape (The Guardian, 2018).

Available on: Stan or iTunes

Black Comedy 

Black Comedy. Courtesy of IMBd, 2020.

Black Comedy is an ABC sketch comedy series. It incorporates a mixture of comedy, parody, historical revisionism, satire and pop culture references. Full of both laughs and real hard hitting themes, this comedy explores what it means to be black in contemporary Australia. The series follows in the footsteps of “Basically Black,” the first Indigenous sketch show to air on the Australian screen over 40 years ago. Black Comedies proclamation to “go blackly where no other blackfella has gone before” does indeed ring true, this bold show is unlike any other. Written by the talented Nakkiah Lui, Steven Oliver and Nayuka Gorrie. Acted by a stellar cast including Bjorn Stewart and Meyne Wyatt (The Conversation, 2014).

Available on: Stan or iTunes

Robbie Hood 

Robbie Hood. Courtesy of the National Indigenous Times, 2019.

This short-form series follows the cheeky but charming 13 year old Robbie and his experiences growing up in Alice Springs. It puts a new spin on the classic tale of Robin Hood, with Robbie, a troublemaker with a heart of gold roaming the streets with his friends. The show is based on writer-director Dylan River experiences growing up in Alice Springs. The cinematography is beautiful and the bluegrass soundtrack helps create a country feel. By all accounts this AACTA award-winning series is absolute joy to watch.

Available on: SBS On Demand

Bush Mechanics 

Bush Mechanics. Courtesy of Deadly Story, 2001.

This aussie classic is like Top Gear and MacGyver all rolled into one. The documentary style series follows a group of Indigenous men as they travel from the small community of Yuendumu through Central Australia. Featuring their unorthodox and inventive ways of fixing their cars and they travel along often difficult roads. In one episode a car roof is hacked off, turned upside down, hitched to the back and used as a trailer. In the first series, the characters speak almost entirely in Warlpiri language. The series is a hilarious sequence of everyday misadventure. It is a show that gives insight into remote Indigenous communities, the mens creativity and passion for cars (Screen Australia, 2020) .

Available on: YouTube

Firestarter 

Firestarter: The Story of Bangarra. Courtesy of ABC Commercial, 2021.

Firestarter released in October last year tells the story of Indigenous contemporary dance company Bangarra, their birth and spectacular growth. It tells the story through the eyes of the founders, the three brothers: Stephen, David and Russell Page. The film explores loss, reclaiming culture, the burden of inter generational trauma and most importantly the incredible power of art as a messenger of social change and healing. It shows how dance is inseparable from Bangarra, and Bangarra is inseparable from Indigenous culture and the history of this land. The documentary features a mixture of archival footage and interviews. It has already been nominated for 6 awards including the AACTA Best Documentary Award (Bangarra, 2020). This beautiful piece really is a must see.

Available on: Still showing in Cinemas

Toomelah

Toomelah. Courtesy of Senses of Cinema, 2019. 

Toomelah is a heart wrenching film that shows the real struggles that exist within remote Indigenous communities. It is drawn from writer/director Ivan Sen’s own experiences through an intimate documentary-like account. The film follows 10 year old Daniel who is surrounded by entrenched alcoholism, drug use and violence. Daniel yearns to be a ‘gangster’ and develops close friendships with local drug dealers. When David suddenly finds himself in the middle of a turf war, he is confronted with a fork that will determine his life path. Set in the town of Toomelah, Ivan Sen cast many of the real townspeople in lead roles, giving the film a lot of strength and authenticity (Screen Australia, 2020) .

Available on: Netflix

Ten Canoes 

Ten Canoes. Courtesy of Palace Films, 2006. 

This beautiful movie gives vivid insight into traditional Aboriginal culture. Set in the Arafura Swamp region of north-eastern Arnhem Land, Australia Ten Canoes tell ancestral tales of sorcery, kidnapping, revenge and mistaken identity. The legendary actor David Gulpilil narrates the story, which goes between the past and the present and from black and white to colour. The entire film is spoken in Aboriginal languages with the majority of actors from the Ramingining community in the Northern Territory. The languages that they speak are various dialects of the Yolgnu Matha language family. It is a moving and moral tale (Palace Films, 2020)

Available on: Rent on YouTube