The BIRRARANGGA (Woiwurrung word for 'River location') Film Festival celebrates Global Indigenous Films that explore the curatorial themes of strength, resilience and the environment; and this year's festival has a program that's bound to delight, entertain and educate. The Festival runs from 23-28 March 2023 at various venues; 20 of them at ACMI C2 & ACMI Gandel Lab at Fed Square, corner Swanston & Flinders Streets in the City, and the other 11 spread across The Capitol - 113 Swanston St, Melbourne; Deakin University - 75 Pigdons Rd, Waurn Ponds (Nyaal Precinct) Geelong; LIDO Hawthorn - 675 Glenferrie Rd, Hawthorn; CLASSIC Elsternwick - 9 Gordon St, Elsternwick; and Pride Centre - 79/81 Fitzroy St, St Kilda. See here for the full program of films on the website, and here for the program at ACMI.
This 3rd BIRRARANGGA film fest features the best of new and emerging voices and gems from established filmmakers - Indigenous storytellers telling their stories. Australia's The Drover's Wife is one of the films to look forward to. Director and star Leah Purcell, a Goa-Gunggari, Wakka Wakka, Murri filmmaker has reimagined Lawson's story in a manner that takes full advantage of Lawson's white and blinkered thinking to find purpose therein and reclaim what is a stale old yarn in comparison. You'll find delicious twists and exciting drama in the film that speaks to and honours a highly accomplished form of Blak storytelling. Screening at ACMI, you'll also find from the film, its props, continuity photos, costumes and scripts on display at the venue.
The Opening Night film Bones of Crows from Canada at The Capitol (Thu 23 Mar) is about Aline's journey from child to matriarch. It's a moving multi-generational epic of resilience, survival and the pursuit of justice. Removed from their family home and forced into Canada's residential school system, Cree musical prodigy Aline and her siblings are plunged into a struggle for survival. Director Marie Clements will be in attendance for a Q&A after the screening. The $40 ticket includes entry to the afterparty with a drink and hors d'oeuvres.
Be sure to enjoy the Closing Night film Muru which includes a Kapa Haka performance by TUIA te here tangata. The director Tearepa Kahi (Ngāti Paoa & Waikato) and Uncle Tame Iti (Ngāi Tūho), who stars in the film will be in attendance for a Q & A after the screening. The story is set against the backdrop of the stunning Tūhoe native bush, and it'll plunge you into one of the most charged episodes of Aotearoa's history: the Tūhoe raids of 15 Oct 2007. If you'd love to view the preview short film Ivalu (a 16 min Oscar nominated (shorts) subtle story with a heart wrenching punch I'd recommend, having seen it); it's available in the Festival's 3-pass and 5-pass ticket packages.
Whetū Mārama – Bright Star (2021) from New Zealand is having its Australian premiere. This documentary follows the journey of three men from far-flung Pacific islands (a Hawaiian, a Micronesian and Hek Busby, 'The Chief' from Aotearoa/New Zealand) to revive the place of their people as the greatest navigators on the planet. Be sure to scour the program and work out your itinerary so as not to miss out. There are films about strong women (Whina) who work tirelessly to improve the rights of their people, especially women. Young, orphaned, Indigenous girl Rosie is forced to live with her reluctant, street-smart Aunt and eventually finds a true home with her new chosen family of glittering outsiders.
Other hard-hitting films include Bring Her Home where three Indigenous women work to vindicate and honour their relatives who are victims in the growing epidemic of Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women. Wild Indian is about Michael who goes to great lengths to protect his new life from the murderous demons of his past. The kids would love Kyindoo Wilam (Learning Place), a selection of animations and short films from across the world. This is a place where children, teenagers and adults can come to watch and learn from stories that are beautifully expressed with honesty and warmth, yet highlights the negative impacts. As you can see, there's something from everyone. Have yourself a great night out and support the Arts.