Indigenous Cinema: “I Don’t Believe in Being Limited By Labels…”

They’re individual people in a minority. The issues are a by-product of the story, not the source” – Daniel Browning (2002)

Indigenous Australian filmmaker Ivan Sen’s conception of ‘Indigenous Cinema’ is one that is characterised through “direct experience” (Bunburry 2002) to address a cosmopolitan, albeit networked, audience. ‘Indigenous Cinema’ is that of a cumulative cultivation of Aboriginal Peoples’ filmic texts utilised to understand Australian National Cinema, Indigenous Australian History and Aboriginality (Gaunson 2013, p. 763). Adamant to entitle Indigenous Cinema as an assemblage of ‘Aboriginal’, ‘issue’ or ‘political’ stories, Indigenous Australian Artists, including Catriona McKenzie (‘Satellite Boy’) and Tracy Moffatt (‘Night Cries: A Rural Tragedy’) are concerned with being compartmentalised or, in other words, nourishing an anti-diversification of Indigenous Cinema. This is by virtue of a “tension between responsibility to your [Indigenous] community and responsibility to your craft” (Hawker 2002).

Such problematic pedagogical methodologies, negating an appraisal of Aboriginal Australian films’ critical or, rather, cinematic aesthetics, illustrates a series of astute dilemmas. This includes non-Indigenous Australian audiences’ well-documented indifference to Aboriginal Peoples’ Stories; Indigenous Australian features’ ‘inherent’ worthiness; and a subscribed archetypal representation of Aboriginal People (Collins & Davis 2004). Therefore, to categorically label Indigenous Australian filmmakers’ features, be that either as inherently an ‘Aboriginal’, ‘message’, ‘issue’ or ‘political’ film, is catastrophic. These ideas contribute to a discourse of a circumscribed Indigenous Cinema as archetypal, argumentative, ‘preachy‘ and worthy of adoration in view of a film’s political assessment.

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Thomas Joannides

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References
Browning, D 2002, Ivan Sen Interview, ABC Radio, accessed 20 September 2016, <http://www.anc.net.au/message/blackarts/film/s720711.html&gt;
Bunburry, S 2002, Beyond Black and White, The Age, accessed 21 September 2016, <http://www.theage.com.au/articles/2002/05/18/1021544084403.html&gt;
Collins, F & Davis, T 2004, Australian Cinema After Mabo, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge
Gaunson, S 2013, ‘Re-Reading Indigenous Cinema: Criticism, White Liberal Guilt and Otherness’, Continuum, vol. 27, no. 6, pp. 763-769, DOI: 10.1080/10304312.2013.794192
Hawker, P 2002, Black Magic: Aboriginal Films Take Off, The Age, accessed 21 September 2016, <http://www.theage.com.au/articles/2002/06/18/1023864429878.html&gt;

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