Australian indigenous films enter "Bran Nue Dae"

Mon Feb 22, 2010 10:57am EST
 
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By Amy Pyett

SYDNEY (Reuters Life!) - Australia's indigenous films have come of age with a series of box office successes for movies depicting not only the harsh reality of life for disadvantaged Aborigines but also their comic streak and rich culture.

"Bran Nue Dae," a comic coming of age tale, took A$2.6 million ($2.34 million) at the Australian box office during its first week in January and has received widespread acclaim at the Sundance and Toronto film festivals.

"To be at each of those film festivals is unprecedented," said director Rachel Perkins, who also screened her film at the Berlin film festival. "It's a badge of honor in itself, so we are very proud of that."

"There are a lot of filmmakers that have realized that there are great stories to be told that come from the indigenous world. It's the first time that we've had something mainstream and comic and so it's managed to cut through," she added.

"I hope that it becomes another voice in the conversation about what Australia is about. Because, ultimately, cinema reflects the stories of a people and a country and there are many voices in Australia and Bran Nue Dae is one of them."

Bran Nue Dae has broken out of arthouse cinemas to be screened in mainstream movie complexes and heralds a shift in Australian cinema, say the country's film critics.

Sydney Morning Herald newspaper film critic Sandra Hall says Bran Nue Dae may encourage other Australian filmmakers to use a light touch in telling aboriginal stories.

Australia's disadvantaged 460,000 Aborigines make up about 2 percent of the population. They have a 17-year lower life expectancy than other Australians and suffer higher rates of unemployment, imprisonment, domestic abuse and substance abuse.   Continued...

 
<p>Rocky McKenzie in a scene from the film "Bran Nue Dae". Australia's indigenous films have come of age with a series of box office successes for movies depicting not only the harsh reality of life for disadvantaged Aborigines but also their comic streak and rich culture. REUTERS/Roadshow Publicity/Handout</p>