Thursday, July 26, 2018

'No one from any government has ever known our language - how could they know us?'


In Another Country, the town of Ramingining offers a snapshot of the destructive influence white Australia has had, and continues to have, on all of Aboriginal Australia. The team behind the exquisite film Ten Canoes carries on their collaboration with the Yolngu people of northeastern Arnhem Land, creating a stark, yet multi-layered and richly-photographed documentary.


Legendary Australian actor - and ex-Ramingining resident - David Gulpilil, narrates a film aimed squarely at white Australians. Gulpilil frames each new indictment as a clear example of how your culture, affects my culture.


The truth comes with no hysterics, however. In the measured hands of director Molly Reynolds and producers Rolf De Heer and Peter Dijigirr, the events and locations are presented as they are, and are all the more powerful for it. Other than the occasional gravelly laugh, Gulpilil's voice never changes tone. Instead, it has a weariness that goes beyond outrage. Heard with this straightforward delivery, his arguments are impossible to deny.


The film is shot with this same spirit of simplicity, which loads every frame with new meaning. We're invited to watch events in Ramingining, but are never allowed to feel part of the town. It's like we've carelessly built a dam upriver and Gulpilil is taking us down his way to show us the drought we made. Even images of a kangaroo, trapped by dogs, seem allegoric presented through the simple camera's eye. 


Another Country is a sobering and necessary film that puts a new spin on terms like self-determination. Be warned, there are no solutions here, just recognition of the problems' source. A must-watch. - Mark Russell