Friday, December 30, 2011

New documentary in development, “ricky on leacock”

I just backed the film with a $15 pledge and will receive a digital download of the film RICKY on LEACOCK when available! This documentary project expires on Kickstarter in 46 hours - so fingers crossed it raises this last $4000 today and tonight! Your pledge contributes to  a great new portrait on Leacock and a film that expands the history of the evolution of documentary

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

'One of the tropes of reality TV shows is the promise and tracking of transformation'

In a recent review I wrote about the SBS documentary reality TVseries Go back to where you came from (in on-line magazine The Conversation), I explore whether the 'transformation' of attitudes amongst the six 'characters' is more than an 'unhappy performative'.

Individuals might genuinely change their minds as a result of what they’ve experienced, but do the state’s refugee policies change? Sara Ahmed discusses similar questions about  racism/anti-racism in her essay, Declarations of Whiteness: The Non-Performativity of Anti-Racism
There's an interesting response to the series by Klaus Neumann in  Inside Story, 
 30th June 2011.  
Neumann discusses whether 'compassion' can be ‘a motivator for action'. He examines the series in the context of its reception: 'the debate rages on blogs and in the twittersphere rather than on the opinion pages of newspapers'…suggesting that 'the creators of the program have been right in not trying to use the show to campaign for a change of policy, but instead focusing on the paucity of the debate'. Neumann also explores how the emotions aroused by the series, and viewers' 'identification with the six participants, has played a crucial role' in the impact of the series. I agree to some extent,  yet the Gillard Government's (almost) confirmed 'Malaysian Solution' suggests its questionable refugee policies continue apace, despite any intense transformations of heart by onscreen characters in a tightly constructed reality TV series. Developing compassionate government immigration policies remains a major concern. 


Saturday, April 30, 2011

anger is turning to sadness, but future action is not ruled out

Jim Everett at the kutalayna site, April 2011

Jim's face says it all -  as the Tasmanian Government arrests protestors and proceeds to build the Brighton by-pass over  mumirimina-kutalayna  heritage along the Jordon River;  kutalayna is a significant link to the Tasmanian Aboriginal community’s history of over 40,000 years (see The Tasmanian Aboriginal Centre's (TAC) Draft Report on the Mumirimina People of the Lower Jordan Valley).

"What kind of things I can share with non Aboriginal people so that they can start  to understand that there is a different way of seeing this world... and their identity cannot be Australian with this country until such time as they get here – they will always be bringing the Northern hemisphere down here and constructing a landscape instead of living in country; landscape is just another  image of the colonial construct... whereas connecting to country goes outside of the colonial construct."  Jim Everett.

"There’s No Such Thing As Post-Colonialism". Jim Everett

This month I was pleased to read Will Owen's blog: Aboriginal Art & Culture: an American eye and his thoughtful response to my documentary Island Home Country
Although Island Home Country may have begun as a film about her childhood, Thornley quickly became swept us in the larger questions of history, and then just as quickly in the questions of cultural protocols.  She visits with Jim Everett, with Aunty Phyllis Pitchford, with Tasmanian artists Julie Gough and PennyX Saxon.  Gough in particular raises the issues of image making and image use; Everett and Pitchford urge her to tell her own story and not try to tell the Indigenous stories (although they do contribute their own in snippets throughout the film).  Thus the weave become tangled as Thornley struggles to explore, to learn, and to tell what she learns: to tell a story that is both hers and not hers... She knows as she does so that she is laying a landscape atop country, and knows there is no other way to do it.  It is Jim Everett who speaks the phrase I’ve chosen as the title for this essay: “There’s no such thing as post-colonialism.”  Unless and until the white man leaves and leaves the country to its original inhabitants, whatever remains is still colonial.  There is no escape from history....

Friday, April 15, 2011

save the mumirimina-kutalayna heritage along the Jordon River, Tasmania

Yesterday 15 April 2011 - 25 police arrested 8 camp membersa further 12 people have since been arrested for trepass with no signs of when the conflict will stop. The day before this Jim Everett, respected Tasmanian Aboriginal activist writer, filmmaker, sent an email letter across Australia (and internationally) asking for support to protect this significant Tasmanian Aboriginal site. I post his letter in full and ask all readers to re-post it across their networks. Also visit The Tasmanian Aboriginal Centre's website to learn more about the campaign and give your support.

"Friday 15th April looks like being a very important day in our history and our struggle for respect of who we are, and respect for our culture and heritage. The Tasmanian Government is about to destroy the mumirimina-kutalayna heritage along the Jordon River. Kutalayna holds the Tasmanian Aboriginal community’s history of over 40,000 years. Today, Friday 15th April, our community and our supporters will be at kutalayna to defend our heritage left by our Old People. Constructing a bridge over kutalayna exposes the current Tasmanian Government’s disrespect for our heritage, and our community. Premier Lara Giddings knows that the bridge will destroy the cultural and historical integrity of kutalayna: she dismisses Tasmanian Aboriginal community knowledge about kutalayna boundaries to save 20 seconds of driving time for traffic entering and leaving Hobart. Premier Giddings has a reasonable option to re-route the bypass over the existing bridge to the north, and along and around kutalayna.

Over 40,000 years of Tasmanian Aboriginal heritage, a unique record of human experiences covering at least 2 Ice-ages, is about to be seriously interfered with. Yet we continue Our Struggle for respect and rights inherent in who we are. This has serious consequences for our community. We believe that the police will arrive today to order supporters away from the kutalayna camp, or arrest the people who refuse to leave: supporters and ‘activists’ standing strong as one body to defend kutalayna. Our action will be a passive and send a clear message to the Government that our heritage is not a bargaining tool. Promises of replacing the out-dated Aboriginal Relics Act 1975 with stronger protection laws of our heritage can’t seriously be considered a bargain for agreeing to the destruction of our heritage. Kutalayna, is our oldest ‘library’ book, it holds the stories of our Old People going back over 40,000 years. Our community has suffered many years of destruction to our heritage since Invasion Day: we must make a stand now, leaving it to our grand-children, and theirs’, must not be allowed to happen.

The issue in focus at kutalayna brings a strong opportunity for developing better relationships between the Tasmanian Aboriginal community and white-Tasmania. To make this happen, a genuine demonstration of meaningful progress in respecting our culture and heritage must be shown by the Tasmanian Government.

I know that we all have hoped that after all of the many years we have struggled to be acknowledged as the contemporary Tasmanian Aboriginal Community; with our objective to be genuinely respected for who we are, and with respect of our rights as Aboriginal people: and, after significant agreements have been achieved with previous Tasmanian Governments: our hope has been that we would not again be forced to to protect our heritage from destruction by a Tasmanian Government. The progress we have achieved in relationships between white-Tasmania and our community, encouraged by previous Tasmanian Governments, is being trashed by Premier Giddings’ Government. Whatever active part you play now, urgently, to increase pressure on the Government to stop the threats to kutalayna, may open some positive outcome for our community.

To be short, we are demanding respect by all of Tasmania, represented by the Tasmanian Government, of our rights concerning the protection of our heritage. I ask you to encourage others to come to the kutalayna camp and show support in saving our heritage from this pending threat."

Saturday, January 8, 2011

"I began to experience a strange tension with my technology".

Walking with Kabir by Shabnam Virmani: " As I ventured into the life of Kabir in the community, I began to experience a strange tension with my technology. The presence of my camera seemed to separate me from the action and relegate me to being a passive observer...Being part of the making process seemed more vital and important than consuming what is made, in my case, ‘recording’ it. It seemed imperative to be fully enveloped in the live pulsating music, to allow it to infiltrate your very pores and have the poetry literally enter your body by singing it...Our middle class lives deliver to us mediated experiences that come to us through books, TV, radio, music CDs and the internet — technology that can certainly deliver powerful experiences, but that can also circumscribe our lives, cut it off from immersion in a vital life force that exists in nature, in the tactile experience of sound, music and earth. We get alienated, we become watchers of spectacles, far-removed, we become phlegmatic, we don’t participate... What I realized in that moment was that in some sense, these were not my films at all. They were not something I made or earned or chose. They were experiences I received as gifts, from a space that lay beyond the claims of my small self. All I had to do now was to pass them on and gift them to others:

Meraa mujh mein kuchch naheen
Jo kuchch hai so teraa
Teraa tujh ko saunp dun
Kyaa laage hai meraa?
There is nothing in me that’s mine
All that is — is yours
I offer to you what’s already yours
What can I say is mine?"

Article by Shabnam Virmani January 2010 Seminar magazine based on a talk she gave in October 2010. View Shabnam's talk and singing here:

Shabnam Virmani is a filmmaker and artist in residence at the Srishti School of Art, Design and Technology in Bangalore, India. 7 years ago she started travelling with folk singers in Malwa, Rajasthan and Pakistan in a quest for the spiritual and socio-political resonances of the 15th century mystic poet Kabir in our contemporary worlds. Her documentary Koi Sunta Hai: Journeys with Kumar & Kabir can be watched online at Culture Unplugged

I recommend her work to you. It is profound.