Two Films About Aboriginal Women by Aboriginal Women
By Mardi Reardon-Smith

The recent groundswell of support for the Bla(c)k Lives Matter movement and rallies demanding accountability for the 438 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander lives lost in custody has brought issues facing Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people into the mainstream.

A lot of non-Indigenous people are moving towards a critical engagement with their own culpability in the colonial project, as well as a desire to learn more about Indigenous peoples, cultures, histories and struggles. As such, for this issue I wanted to briefly highlight two beautiful films about Aboriginal women, made by Aboriginal women. Both are available to stream online either for free, or for a small fee.

Still from Eight Ladies by Dena Curtis (2010)

Eight Ladies is a short observational documentary which follows eight women from Alyawarr Country in the Sandover River region in central Australia, about 250km north of Alice Springs, on a five-day trip to hunt and gather bush foods. The women hunt for echidna and dig for bush potatoes, as they laugh together, tell stories about how they learnt to access these foods and reflect on how things have changed over time.

Dena Curtis is Waramungu, Warlpiri and Arrernte woman and a filmmaker who, according to Ronin Films, ‘has edited many CAAMA documentaries, and far too rarely makes her own films’. 

Still from Nice Coloured Girls by Tracey Moffatt (1987)

Nice Coloured Girls is a kind of lyrical visual essay on relationships between Aboriginal women and White men. A night out for three Aboriginal women in King’s Cross, on which they seek out an inebriated & creepy ‘captain’ (rich White man) to bankroll their night in a satisfying form of redistributive justice, is interspersed with sobering extracts from the diary of colonist Lieutenant William Bradley. The colonial account paints a picture of Aboriginal women as passive and submissive. It includes the misreading of a ritual in which a newborn baby with a European father is passed through smoke for protection as a naive attempt by the mother to darken the baby’s skin. This narrative is beautifully turned inside out by the savvy and cynical young women who knowingly play a role for the captain and achieve their desired result.

Tracey Moffatt is an internationally renowned Aboriginal visual artist and filmmaker. Her other films include Night Cries: A Rural Tragedy and Bedevil.

Eight Ladies by Dena Curtis (2010). Available to rent for $5.38.

Nice Coloured Girls by Tracey Moffatt (1987). Available to stream for free.

From The Film Group August e-newsletter. To sign up to The Film Group newsletter, click here.


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