Looking Forward/Looking BLAK: Indigenous Identity in Australian Cinema

Sunday 6 March 2011

Bradley Forum, UniSA City West campus, Hawke Building level 5, 50-55 North Terrace, Adelaide

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Presented by the 2011 BigPond Adelaide Film Festival in association with The Bob Hawke Prime Ministerial Centre, UniSA

Panel members:  Tom E Lewis (Chant of Jimmie Blacksmith), directors Beck Cole (Here I Am) and Rolf de Heer (Ten Canoes) and Dr Brenda Croft.  They will explore, from a range of vantage points, the rapidly changing landscape of Indigenous representation and identity in Australian cinema.

Chaired by Dr Mike Walsh.  Mike is Senior Lecturer in Screen and Media at Flinders University. He holds a PhD from the Communication Arts Department of the University of Wisconsin-Madison. He is currently a programmer and the writer/editor for the BigPond Adelaide Film Festival. He is a contributing editor to national arts magazine RealTime and Metro.

The panel will follow a free film program of significant films that relate to the representation of Aboriginal people since the mid 1950s to 2011, all screening during the Big Pond Film Festival [24 Feb- 6 March] .

The Bob Hawke Prime Ministerial Centre at UniSA is pleased to be supporting the 2011 BigPond Adelaide Film Festival as part of Stop(the)gap International Indigenous art in motion - a Samstag Museum of Art and 2011 BigPond Adelaide Film Festival project.


Beck Cole is a writer/director who hails from Alice Springs. Her debut feature film Here I Am premiers at the Bigpond Adelaide Film Festival this year.

Documentaries written and directed by Beck include the cheeky little sister of the feature film Making Samson & Delilah, award winning Wirriya: small boy, The Lore of Love and the acclaimed SBS history series First Australians; the untold story of Australia.

Her drama Plains Empty, set in the remote South Australian township of Coober Pedy screened at the Sundance Film Festival in 2005, the previous year her first short film Flat also screened at Sundance and the Edinburgh Film Festivals.

Beck aims to write interesting characters for Aboriginal women to play on screen, she shares a love for both drama and documentary and is currently working on a new script and trying her hand as a novelist.


Indigenous actor and musician Tom E. Lewis is a veteran of the stage and screen with a performance career spanning 30 years.

Recent screen credits include lead Jimmy Conway in Red Hill (Berlinale 2010) roles in The Proposition (Autonomous), September (TropFest Feature), short films William (Sundance 2007); Bad Habits (St Tropez 2007), Crocodile Dreaming, and television series' Double Trouble and The Circuit (Series II).

Since returning to his NT home in 2001, Tom has been increasingly active in the development and production of screen projects. He is the co-writer and narrator (SELF) of documentary Yellow Fella (Un Certain Regard, Cannes 2005); the Series Consultant and Narrator for the ABC Dust Echoes Series I and II (nominated for an AFI in 2007 ); the Creative Director of documentary Muyngarnbi: the Making of Songs from Walking with Spirits (Djilpin Arts 2007); and numerous screen initiatives in remote indigenous communities, including the Music Video from the Muyngarnbi CD/DVD – Warrk Warrk, which won Best Music Video at ImagineNATIVE Film Festival in Toronto (October 2008).

Tom's first (broadcast) directing credit, One River All Rivers (2008), won the Pick of the Crop Award at Fistful of Films Festival in August 2008. It has screened on ABCTV, in New York for the United Nations; at Messagesticks Festival in Sydney, and in the shorts program of the prestigious ImagineNative International Film Festival in Toronto, where it received an Honourable Mention and and an award for Emerging Talent. Current projects in development include feature script on the story of Tambo for Autonomous.

Tom was awarded the 2005 Bob Maza Fellowship by the Australian Film Commission and the Australia Council's 2006 Red Ochre Award, both recognizing lifetime achievement in indigenous arts and culture.

Rolf de Heer writes, produces and directs feature films. Works include "Ten Canoes", "The Tracker" and "Bad Boy Bubby".

All screenings are FREE (no booking required for films)

Walkabout (M)

12noon, 26 February, Mercury Cinema

Walkabout (Nicholas Roeg, 1971) stars David Gilpilli as the nameless example of 'primitive purity' who rescues the displaced 'civilised' European children lost in the Australian interior, but pays the ultimate price, in what can be seen as a metaphor for Indigenous existence since first contact.

The Last Wave (PG)

12.45pm, 1 March, Mercury Cinema

The Last Wave (Peter Weir, 1977) attempts to invoke a pan-Aboriginal cosmology as a force underlying contemporary Australia, as a precursor to the 1990s melding of New Age beliefs with all things Indigenous.  Ancient ancestral stories were manipulated and overlaid with pseudo-psychological conceptions of Dreaming in this apocalyptic vision.

Jedda (G)

11.30am, 5 March, Mercury Cinema

Jedda (Charles Chauvel, 1955) shot Rosalie Kunoth-Monks to fame.  In hindsight it has become the quintessential Stolen Generations film as it stages a debate on misguided attempts to forcibly raise Aboriginal children within European culture at the denial of their heritage.

Rosalie Kunoth-Monks will introduce the film.

The Chant of Jimmie Blacksmith (M)

1.30pm, 5 March, Mercury Cinema

With The Chant of Jimmie Blacksmith (Fred Schepisi, 1978) Australian cinema started to take seriously the notion that rage and resistance to injustice were understandable reactions.  For Aboriginal Australians, Jimmie can be seen as a warrior, a resistance fighter undertaking an uprising.

Tom E Lewis will introduce this film.


While the views presented by speakers within the Hawke Centre public program are their own and are not necessarily those of either the University of South Australia or The Hawke Centre, they are presented in the interest of open debate and discussion in the community and reflect our themes of: strengthening our democracy - valuing our diversity - and building our future.

The copying and reproduction of any transcripts within the Hawke Centre public program is strictly forbidden without prior arrangements.

While the views presented by speakers within The Bob Hawke Prime Ministerial Centre public program are their own and are not necessarily those of either the University of South Australia, or The Bob Hawke Prime Ministerial Centre, they are presented in the interest of open debate and discussion in the community and reflect our themes of: Strengthening our Democracy - Valuing our Diversity - Building our Future. The Hawke Centre reserves the right to change their program at any time without notice.