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Message Sticks Indigenous Film Festival

MESSAGE STICKS

17–26 AUGUST 2007

Message Sticks Indigenous Film Festival presents Australian premieres of films by the country’s many talented Indigenous filmmakers, as well as Australian premieres of international indigenous releases, and is presented in association with the Sydney Opera House (SOH), Australian Film Commission (AFC) and Indigenous Screen Australia (ISA). This year’s program features a rich selection of dramas and documentaries by first-time directors and established Australian filmmakers including Ivan Sen, Julie Nimmo, Darlene Johnson, Warwick Thornton and Native American director Sterlin Harjo. A number of films were produced through Bit of Black Business, an AFC and SBS Independent (SBSi) initiative, and through the National Indigenous Documentary Fund (NIDF). Through the substantial support of the Australian Film Commission’s Black Screen, Message Sticks has grown into a national touring event reaching audiences in every state. In 2007, the Australian Cinémathèque is proud to showcase the program in Brisbane with community support from the Colourise Film Festival. The festival is curated by Darren Dale and Rachel Perkins.

Opening Night
6.00pm Friday 17 August
/ Cinema A

The Opening Night features Darlene Johnson’s compelling Crocodile Dreaming 2007, starring David Gulpilil, and short films, Warwick Thornton’s Nana 2007, Jacob Nash’s Bloodlines 2007 and local filmmaker Odetta Best’s My Country 2007.

Production
still from Conversion

Conversion 2006 Ages 15+
3.00pm Saturday 18 August (with Four Sheets to the Wind) / Cinema A
12 noon Wednesday 22 August (with Four Sheets to the Wind) / Cinema B

DIGITIAL BETACAM, 9 MINS, USA / DIRECTOR: NANOBAH BECKER

In a remote corner of the Navajo nation, USA, around 1950, a visit by Christian missionaries has catastrophic consequences for a family. Message Sticks welcomes this short film, which had its premiere at the Sundance Film Festival.

Production
still from Crocodile Dreaming

Crocodile Dreaming 2007 M
6.00pm Friday 17 August (with Nana + Bloodlines) / Cinema A
3.00pm Sunday 19 August (with Nana + Bloodlines) / Cinema A
12 noon Sunday 26 August (with Nana + Bloodlines) / Cinema B

35MM, 27:30 MINS, AUSTRALIA / DIRECTOR: DARLENE JOHNSON

Crocodile Dreaming is set against a backdrop of the rugged stone country of Arnhem Land. Award-winning director Darlene Johnson brings audiences a modern-day dreamtime legend about two estranged brothers, played by David Gulpilil and Tom E Lewis, who struggle to come to terms with their traditional roles and identities and who are reunited through the spirit of their mother.

Production
still from Dark Science

Dark Science 2007 Ages 15+
1.00pm Saturday 18 August
/ Cinema A
12 noon Thursday 23 August / Cinema B

DIGITAL BETACAM, 52 MINS, AUSTRALIA / DIRECTORS: JOHAN GABRIELSSON, WARWICK THORNTON

Swedish scientist Eric Mjoberg came to the Kimberley of Western Australia in the early 1900s seeking the missing link. He got more than he bargained for. Dark Science follows in Mjoberg’s footsteps while reflecting on his legacy and the contemporary Kimberley reaction to his deeds.

Production
still from Footprints in the Sand

Destiny in Alice 2007 Ages 15+
10.00am Sunday 19 August (with Sunset to Sunrise) / Cinema A
12 noon Friday 24 August (with Sunset to Sunrise) / Cinema B

DIGITAL BETACAM, 25 MINS, AUSTRALIA / DIRECTOR: SONJA DARE

Welcome to Alice Springs, the lesbian metropolis of outback Australia, a place where black and white women mix and mingle. Satirical and funny, this revealing documentary asks the question: can you sustain love when racial and cultural gaps seem insurmountable?

Production
still from Flour, Sugar, Tea

Flour, Sugar, Tea 2007 PG
1.00pm Sunday 19 August (with Nigger Lovers) / Cinema A
12 noon Saturday 25 August (with Nigger Lovers) / Cinema B

DIGITAL BETACAM, 25 MINS, AUSTRALIA / DIRECTOR: LEE WILLIS

In Australia in 2007, the life expectancy for Indigenous men is 59; for non-Indigenous men it is 77. Why? Within this context, Flour, Sugar, Tea goes behind the statistics to tell the personal story of John De Satge, an inspiring Aboriginal man who should not have died so young.

Production
still from Footprints in the Sand

Footprints in the Sand 2007 Ages 15+
3.30pm Sunday 19 August (with When the Natives Get Restless) / Cinema A
1.00pm Sunday 26 August (with When the Natives Get Restless) / Cinema B

DIGITAL BETACAM, 25 MINS, AUSTRALIA / DIRECTOR: GLEN STASIUK

Footprints in the Sand tells of the extraordinary journey in search of Warri and Yatungka, believed to be the last of the Gibson Desert people who ‘came in’ out of the desert for the first time in the late 1970s. This is the sad love story of Warri and Yatungka and the uplifting story of their survival and rescue.

Production
still from Four Sheets to the Wind

Four Sheets to the Wind 2006 Ages 15+
3.00pm Saturday 18 August
(with Conversion) / Cinema A
12 noon Wednesday 22 August (with Conversion) / Cinema B

35MM, 91 MINS, USA / DIRECTOR: STERLIN HARJO

When Cufe finds his father dead beside a bottle of pills, he does as he has promised and drags the body out to the family pond, unceremoniously sinking it to the bottom. But everyone in the family is expecting a big funeral so Cufe, his cousin and his mum decide to fake one. Four Sheets to the Wind is fresh from its premiere at the Sundance Film Festival.

Production
still from Miss Navajo

Miss Navajo 2006 Ages 15+
2.00pm Sunday 19 August / Cinema A
1.00pm Saturday 25 August / Cinema B

DIGITAL BETACAM, 52 MINS, USA / DIRECTOR: BILLY LUTHER

This engaging documentary follows Crystal Frazier, an unlikely contender for the title of Miss Navajo Nation. In this highly unusual pageant, instead of parading around in bathing suits, contestants must immerse themselves in Navajo culture, master the language and demonstrate the art of butchering a sheep.

Production
still from Nigger Lovers

Nigger Lovers 2007 Ages 15+
1.00pm Sunday 19 August
(with Flour, Sugar, Tea) / Cinema A
12 noon Saturday 25 August (with Flour, Sugar, Tea) / Cinema B

DIGITAL BETACAM, 25 MINS, AUSTRALIA / DIRECTOR: RHONDA HAGAN

Known internationally for trying to get the word ‘nigger’ removed from a sign in Toowoomba, Stephen Hagan is now being taken to Bankruptcy Court by the Toowoomba Sports Trust. Nigger Lovers follows one man’s resistance against bigotry and prejudice in the face of overwhelming odds.

Production
still from A Sister’s Love

A Sister’s Love 2007 Ages 15+
2.00pm Saturday 18 August / Cinema A
1.00pm Thursday 23 August / Cinema B

DIGITAL BETACAM, 52 MINS, AUSTRALIA / DIRECTOR: IVAN SEN

This very personal documentary follows Indigenous actor, journalist and festival director Rhoda Roberts as she travels home to confront the brutal murder of her twin sister, whose body was found eight years ago in a remote forest near Lismore in New South Wales. A Sister’s Love is the latest film from award-winning director Ivan Sen.

Production
still from Songlines to the Seine

Songlines to the Seine 2007 Ages 15+
11.30am Sunday 19 August / Cinema A
1.00pm Friday 24 August / Cinema B

DIGITAL BETACAM, 52 MINS, AUSTRALIA / DIRECTOR: JULIE NIMMO

Songlines to the Seine begins at the Musée du quai Branly in Paris, one of the newest museums in the world. Only one group of Indigenous artists was invited to collaborate on its architectural project, ‘Aboriginal Australians’. This film traces their source of inspiration all the way back to Australia, where the ‘songlines’ began.

Production
still from Sunset to Sunrise

Sunset to Sunrise 2007 G
10.00am Sunday 19 August (with Destiny in Alice) / Cinema A
12 noon Friday 24 August (with Destiny in Alice) / Cinema B

DIGITAL BETACAM, 25 MINS, AUSTRALIA / DIRECTOR: ALLAN COLLINS

An inkata (senior law man) gives an oration in the desert that begins at sunset and ends with sunrise. Sunset to Sunrise is a simple but extraordinarily compelling film in the traditional storytelling style of the desert people. It is from the longest running Indigenous created television series in Australia, Nganampa Anwernekenhe.

Production
still from When the Natives Get Restless

When the Natives Get Restless 2007 M
3.30pm Sunday 19 August (with Footprints in the Sand) / Cinema A
1.00pm Sunday 26 August (with Footprints in the Sand) / Cinema B

DIGITAL BETACAM, 25 MINS, AUSTRALIA / DIRECTOR: ADRIAN WILLS

On the infamous Gordon Estate in Dubbo, the entire community has been given an eviction notice. Within three years, all their homes will be demolished. In this powerful documentary, the community speaks for the first time about the issues they face and about being black in a regional town like Dubbo.

Bit of Black Business — Part 1 2007
10.00am Saturday 18 August / Cinema A
3.00pm Friday 23 August + Sunday 25 August / Cinema B

Production
still from Back Seat

Back Seat 2007 PG

HD, 5:45 MINS / DIRECTOR: PAULINE WHYMAN

One day unfolds through the eyes of 12-year-old Janine when she goes with her foster parents to meet her biological family for the first time.

Production
still from Custard

Custard 2007 G

HD, 5:45 MINS / DIRECTOR: MICHELLE BLANCHARD

In her search for answers, a granddaughter’s questions lead to the discovery of self and a chance to embrace the complexities of family.

Production
still from Days like these

Days like these 2007 G

HD, 5:45 MINS / DIRECTOR: MARTIN LEROY ADAMS

Trying to find a job, Dan has to overcome social stereotypes.

Production
still from Nana

Nana 2007 PG

HD, 5:45 MINS / DIRECTOR: WARWICK THORNTON

Nana’s granddaughter thinks Nana’s pretty special. She loves her Nana because she helps the old people; she’s a good painter and other people love her too. Nana’s got everyone under control.

Production
still from Too Late

Too Late 2007 PG

HD, 5:45 MINS / DIRECTOR: MICHAEL LONGBOTTOM

Ben’s plea for forgiveness leads to a shocking discovery.

Production
still from Two Big Boys

Two Big Boys 2007 PG

HD, 5:45 MINS / DIRECTOR: JON BELL

Two brothers face a crisis of dignity, which causes them to examine their relationship and sets them on a quest to become, indeed, two big boys.

Bit of Black Business — Part 2 2007
11.30am Saturday 18 August / Cinema A
3.00pm Friday 24 August + Sunday 26 August / Cinema B

Production
still from Bloodlines

Bloodlines 2007 G

HD, 5:45 MINS / DIRECTOR: JACOB NASH

Bloodlines is about finding your heritage in urban Australia. Finding out where your blood runs.

Production
still from Done Dirt Cheap

Done Dirt Cheap 2007 G

HD, 5:45 MINS / DIRECTOR: DEBBIE CARMODY

Amos enlists two larrikin miners into his ingenious way to make money from an unsuspecting tourist who walks into the plot and gets less than he bargained for.

Production
still from Hush

Hush 2007 PG

HD, 5:45 MINS / DIRECTOR: DENA CURTIS

Ethel and her friend Mary resort to an unlikely occupation at night to top up their pensions. Ethel’s daughter is horrified when she discovers they are not really ‘playing cards’.

Production
still from Jackie Jackie

Jackie Jackie 2007 G

HD, 5:45 MINS / DIRECTOR: ADRIAN WILLIS

Jinaali is a sweet overweight Aboriginal checkout chick at the local supermarket. Her boss, Mr Chuck, is constantly on her back until Jinaali finds a voice of her own.

Production
still from Kwatye

Kwatye 2007 PG

HD, 5:45 MINS / DIRECTOR: TRISHA MORTON-THOMAS

Who would have thought a glass of water could cause so much havoc?

Production
still from Sharpeye

Sharpeye 2007 PG

HD, 5:45 MINS / DIRECTOR: AARON FA’AOSO

When 11-year-old Whalen spies a Special Forces dinghy in the Torres Strait Islands, the whole town gets in on the action to outdo the professionals at their own game.

Production
still from The Turtle

The Turtle 2007 PG

HD, 5:45 MINS / DIRECTOR: KELLI CROSS

Thirteen-year-old Jason is becoming a young man. His mother sends him to the only decent role model she can think of, his grandfather, for a holiday in a small town.

Bit of Black Business is an initiative of the Indigenous Branch of the Australian Film Commission, SBS Independent, New South Wales Film and Television Office, and ScreenWest.

Flour, Sugar, Tea, Nigger Lovers, When the Natives Get Restless, Footprints in the Sand and Destiny in Alice were commissioned as part of the National Indigenous Documentary Fund (NIDF). The NIDF is managed by the AFC in association with Indigenous Screen Australia and funded by the Film Finance Corporation, ScreenWest, SBS, NSW Film and Television Office and Film Victoria.

The Australian Cinémathèque advises Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people that the films in Message Sticks may contain images and footage of people who are deceased.