Eye-opening but heavy-handed Aborigine doc
It’s no secret that the indigenous population of Australia have been handed a raw deal ever since James Cook set up shop on behalf of the British in 1770. While notions of modern day racial discrimination are just as well-known, what may not be so clear to many people is the extent to which the government plays a part. Our Generation focusses on the Intervention of 2007, in which the government of the Northern Territory ‘intervened’ in what it claimed to be the systematic sexual abuse of the children of the indigenous Yolngu population, with little or no investigation or proof. The Yolngu had many of their rights – most crucially, the right to own land – suspended, and the authorities moved in and started selling off mining contracts on the mineral-rich territories.
Filmmakers Sinem Saban and Damien Curtis sustain a tone of outrage that is highly understandable but also quite heavy handed. The material itself is cause for anger and disbelief; these emotions are then overegged with damning quotes from the UN report into the Intervention (with words like ‘critical’ and ‘discrimination’ bolded out and fading later than the rest of the text). Their editing appears to have been done with boxing gloves on as well, as very few of the talking head interviews play out uncut. This is no accusation that Saban and Curtis have been creative with the footage; rather that, in their rush to get the film completed, they haven’t given their speakers a go at a second take to iron out mistakes, or dedicated enough time in the editing process to smoothing out the rough edges.
This lack of polish does give the film a sense of urgency though, and as previously mentioned, the content is jaw-dropping. For anyone with an interest in the Aboriginal struggle in Australia, it is essential viewing.
Dundee Contemporary Arts, Fri 30 Sep, 6pm; Filmhouse, Edinburgh, Sat 1 Oct, 1,30pm & 8.30pm; GFT, Glasgow, Sun 2 Oct, 5pm. All screenings will be followed by a Q&A with director Sinem Saban. Part of Take One Action Film Festival.