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Message Sticks Indigenous Film Festival

message sticks Message Sticks Indigenous Film Festival

The 10th Annual Message Sticks Indigenous Film Festival was incredibly popular this year. So much so that I was one of a crowd of people funnelled into the outdoor area where flat screens were set out so we could watch this years offerings. It was worth enduring the chill and the constant dinging of the intermission bell through portions of the films, to see this year’s 7 stunning short films.

Starting off the festival was S.F. Tusa’s film Nia’s Melancholy a story about a teenager recovering from the loss of a sibling. The film begins by explore her isolation and what it means for her to want to leave her family and community for ‘the big smoke.’ Nia’s Melancholy had striking and vibrant cinematography and minimal dialogue.

Adrian Will’s film Bourke Boy tells the story of an indigenous boy raised in a white adopted family travelling with his father to visit his birthplace in Bourke. This delicate film was complimented by the beautiful landscapes and the touching chemistry between the father and son.

The Farm by Romain Moreton blends mystical and ethereal with the everyday. The protagonist lives on a bean picking settlement with her brother and mother. During the season she has strange encounters with people from previous picking seasons. The film is poignant and simple with a breathtakingly lush backdrop.

Angelina Hurley’s hilarious film Auntie Maggie and The Womba Wakgun was based on the true story of Hurley’s aunt. The quirky story is about a feisty woman named Auntie Maggie and her various misadventures with a rooster she procured in exchange for tobacco. This light hearted tale was very popular with the audience.

Michelle Blanchard’s The Party Shoes is about a mixed race girl living with her white mother who is in the wake of an emotional tragedy. We enter the private world of a girl who is seeking nurturing and purpose in the absence of her mother’s attention. This film is a subtle but deeply emotional experience that had me wanting to reach out and hug this abandoned little girl.

Jacob by Dena Curtis is set in central Australia in the 1940′s. With minimal dialogue the film tackles the gut wrenching premise of a white baby unexpectedly born to an indigenous family—and how the family fractures and then attempts to heal as a result.

The closing of the festival was Debra Messenger’s film Ralph, which was my favourite offering of this year’s festival. The little girl who is the main character is obsessed with Karate Kid Ralph Macchio. Outcast from her school mates, she finds comfort in writing to Ralph and hopes that he will escort her to her school dance. This film was unique and lovable and a great way to end this years remarkable festival.


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