Australia continues to produce incredible cinematography that features and is created by Indigenous talent. For our latest list of recommended viewing, we’ve gathered together a list of documentaries, movies and series that explore the day to day experiences of Indigenous Australians and the systemic issues that continue to exist within our country. Each of these picks conveys an important message, giving all Australians a better insight into the lives of First Nations peoples.
In My Blood It Runs
From 'In My Blood It Runs,' Dujuan in Mparntwe (Alice Springs). Photo by Maya Newell. Courtesy of Closer Productions.
In My Blood It Runs is an observational documentary that follows 10 year old Arrernte boy Dujuan, as he grows up in Alice Springs. Dujuan is an excellent hunter and speaks three languages. Through the doco you see his wisdom and intelligence. Yet at school, he is ‘failing’ and he and his family are facing increasing scrutiny from welfare and the police. Through all of this, his family fights to give him a strong Arrernte education alongside his western education. Director Maya Newell paints a vivid picture of Dujuans life as he navigates the inequality of the education system. A key goal of In My Blood It Runs is to push for Australian schools to become more culturally safe for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students (The Guardian, 2020).
Warakurna Police Brevet Senior Sergeant Revis Ryder and Brevet Sergeant Wendy Kelly, with Ngaanyatjarra elder Daisy Ward. Courtesy of Junkee, 2020.
Our Law is a groundbreaking documentary that was released in 2020. It follows two Noongar police officers, Senior Sergeant Rvis Ryder and Sergeant Wendy Kelly. They operate out of Western Australia’s first Indigenous-run police station in the remote community of Warakurna. Warakurna is an Indigenous community that still practices traditional lore. The duo learn Yarnangu lore and culture and master the local Ngaanyatjarra language in an attempt to gain the community’s trust and create a more culturally-inclusive way of policing the region. There is a systemic issue within Australia’s law enforcement, and this beautiful documentary shows a new approach to policing through shared understanding and collaboration (The Urban List, 2021).
Watch on Netflix.
MABO. Courtesy of Deadly Story, 2021.
Eddie Koiki Mabo is a name most Australians should be familiar with. He was a Torres Strait Islander man who led the campaign for Indigenous land rights. Mabo began campaigning in 1973 when he discovered that the ownership of his land on Murray Island - which had been passed down over 16 generations - was not legally recognised as his people's land. Mabo fought long and hard for the recognition of Traditional Land Rights. The film traces his life from being a carefree young man, to his marriage, death and the High Court decision on the historic day of June 3rd, 1992. MABO is both a love story and a documentation of Mabo’s fight for what rightfully belongs to him and his people (Black Fella Films, 2021).
The Wrong Kind Of Black
The Wrong Kind of Black. Courtesy of Iview, 2021.
This incredible series is based on the life of Boori Monty Pryor. It flips between the 60s and 70s, both showing his life growing up in a tight-knit family on Palm Island, to the glittering 70s in Melbourne where he worked as one of the hottest dj’s around. Despite his brilliant success, Pryor is still constantly told that he’s the ‘wrong kind of black’ This ultimately has a devastating effect on his family. Both hilarious and heartbreaking, this four part series will have you both in fits of laughter and tears. It is a unique story of an Indigenous man who pursued his dreams and stood against the awful tide of racism prevalent within Australia.
Watch on Netflix.
Mad Bastards. Courtesy of Netflix, 2021.
Mad Bastards follows TJ, a hard-edged Indigenous man who’s sick of scraping out an existence in the city. In a quest to find his estranged son, he travels to the tiny town of Five Rivers. Here, he is confronted by a local tough cop, Texas, and begins to question his life of violence, realising what's truly important. What is unique about the film is that it was developed in local Aboriginal communities, and it features a cast of real people with no previous acting experience, giving a unique sense of intimacy to the film. It also features an incredible soundtrack with music by the iconic Indigenous band, The Pigram Brothers.
Watch on Netflix.
We hope this article has helped you find a few new gems to watch this week or whenever you have a spare moment to sit down and enjoy some brilliant Australian cinematography. For more recommendations check out our previous posts 10 Indigenous Australian Films to Watch and Indigenous TV Series and Movies to Binge this Easter.