Representing Indigenous Stories in the Cinema: Between Collaboration and Appropriation

By Henk Huijser and Brooke Collins-Gearing.

Published by The Diversity Collection

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Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

Not only has there been a large increase during the last decade in the amount of Australian films that tell Indigenous stories, but there has also been a significant diversification of both the kinds of stories that are being told and the ways in which they are being told. Where films like Walkabout and The Chant of Jimmy Blacksmith in the 1970s clearly came from a white perspective on Indigeneity, in recent years Indigenous filmmakers have become more visible with films like Radiance, One Night the Moon and Beneath Clouds. In addition, white filmmakers increasingly choose the road of collaboration when it comes to Indigenous subject matter, as can be seen in films like Rabbit Proof Fence and The Tracker. This type of collaboration is most pronounced in the recent Rolf de Heer film Ten Canoes. This paper will discuss Ten Canoes in relation to two main concepts, both coined by Aileen Moreton-Robinson: the idea of Australia as a postcolonising nation (rather than a postcolonial nation) and the idea of incommensurability between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australia. In the process, it will explore the limits to collaboration and where collaboration becomes appropriation, and the implications of these processes for Australia as a postcolonising nation.

Keywords: Indigeneity, Collaboration, Appropriation, Postcolonising Nation, Incommensurability

International Journal of Diversity in Organizations, Communities and Nations, Volume 7, Issue 3, pp.1-10. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 547.311KB).

Dr. Henk Huijser

Lecturer Learning Enhancement (Communication), Learning and Teaching Support Unit (LTSU), Public Memory Research Centre, University of Southern Queensland, Toowoomba, Queensland, Australia

Dr Henk Huijser has taught in the field of media and cultural studies in New Zealand and Australia, and has published in various journals, including the International Journal of Diversity. He is currently a lecturer in learning enhancement (communication) in the Learning and Teaching Support Unit at USQ, and a researcher in the Public Memory Research Centre. His research interests include multiculturalism, Indigeneity and educational applications of new media.

Dr Brooke Collins-Gearing

Lecturer, Wollotuka School of Aboriginal Studies, University of Newcastle, Newcastle, New South Wales, Australia

Dr Brooke Collins-Gearing is a Kamilaroi woman, who received her PhD from the University of Newcastle, with an enormous amount of support from the people at Umulliko and Wollotuka. She taught at the University of Southern Queensland for two years until coming back home. She has two bossy little men. Brooke is currently a lecturer in the Wollotuka School of Aboriginal Studies at the University of Newcastle. She is the recipient of an ARC Indigenous Researchers Grant (1999, 2006-2007), a joint ARC Discovery Grant (2006-2008), and the 2006 Nancy Keesing Fellowship (State Library Council of NSW).

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