Birrarangga Film Festival

by Pauline Clague

On the last weekend of April in Melbourne the inaugural Birraranga Film Festival opened with an energy of excitement at ACMI in Victoria. Welcoming into the fold another Indigenous Film Festival celebrating Indigenous stories and filmmakers from across the globe. It was great to see the audiences engage with our films.

As the representative for Winda Film Festival, I went down to Melbourne to offer support but also to help do the panels for the festival. The team behind the scenes, Tony Briggs and Damiene Pradier had pulled together the framework of a great festival and  the public turned up to come and enjoy films and discussions around Indigenous screen.

PANEL| Global Indigenous Female Screen Creatives

On the Saturday I had the privilege of speaking with Tirrel Calder an amazing stop motion animator and creator (Canada), Writer/Director Bec Cole (Australia), Producer Jodie Bell (Australia), Writer/Dircetor Darlene Naponse (Canada) and Screen Icon Tantoo Cardinal (Canada) about the importance of having Indigenous female voices on screen and behind the scenes. The women gave us insights into their processes and working on lifting up Indigenus women voices. The challenges of breaking down walls and working in areas that often are largely male orientated and being the makers of their own destiny when it comes to working on projects that matter.

PANEL | From Black Theatre to Black Screen: In conversation with Gary Foley

On the Sunday I sat down with Gary Foley to talk about his journey of Black Theatre to Black Screen. Looking at the journey through activism that lead to the Basically Black theatre play and then on to his work in film and television. We pullled clips through the ages of his experience and really spent the time getting to talk through the journey of his life in film and TV. The seventies and eigthies was a fascinating time for screen in Australia and with the rise of TV into everyones homes, and the transfer from black and white to colour, everyone was engaged with the Australian identity on screen. Giving a unique opportunity for actors to push the represntation on screen. The experience of those actors during the time to not just walk the treadboards of stage but to march and protest on the streets to utilise their access to lift the profile of stories. Gary talked candidly about his history and connection to Phil Noyce and the making of “BackRoads”. Being Noyce’s first film and their carfree way about wothey just drove out west and the behind the scenes goings on for Phil’s first film and and screen as well as being a face for protest during that time. His fascinating stories about being in Cannes with Backroads and working on shows like A Country Practice. Being an actor that wanted to bring out messages in his work, he controlled the his voice by helping to write his characters into being. Always charasmatic and entertaining he gave us an insight into a period when comedy, politics, arts and activism were all working together in Australia with the accessibility of TV and media playing a part in the identity of our next generations.