Held at the Sydney Opera House from Thurs 6th May - Sun 9th May, Message Sticks Indigenous Film Festival is an opportunity for the Indigenous community of Australia to share their Australia. The Festival has showcased the works of Indigenous storytellers and film-makers for 11 years and achieved widespread national recognition when it was awarded the 2009 IF Award for Best Australian Film Festival.
The Festival curated by award-winning filmmakers, Rachel Perkins and Darren Dale, features a selection of documentaries, shorts and features that provide insight into issues and experiences of the indigenous community.
‘Many of the films address contemporary indigenous life: the unexpected and sometimes delightful things that happen at the intersection of ancient Aboriginal and modern Australian culture.’ The Australian
One of the featured films was 'Boxing For Palm Island' telling the story of a group of talented young boxers and their coach Ray Dennis a 73 year old man who moved to the Palm Islnd area 10 years ago battling a drinking problem. The film encompasses the kids struggles to defy stereotypes and take the future into their own hands with the support of Uncle Ray.
"And I was going to end up going astray so I had to get out of the place. I always had success training boxers. Some of the boxers I used to train live on Palm Island so I thought well I'll go over there. That might keep me out of trouble."- Ray Dennis
Still today, Ray Dennis trains boxers to compete in state and national competitions including the Quuensland Titles and Australian National Championships. The Director Adrian Wills said he wanted to tell a positive story from a community that has been described in the past as 'the most violent place outside a warzone'.
"I was really excited about being a part of a project that was you know a hopeful example of that community and something that showed it was a positive, interactive, inspiring community - which it is."- Adrian Wills
Another documentary that featured in the festival was Big Fella. A film that followed the experience of Director Michael Longbottom's best friend Rodney ARdner and his weight loss battle. Rodney was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes at 36, which isn't uncommon in the Indigenous community. He was told that his heart and kidneys weren't doing very well and if he didn't change, he'd only a few years to live. Rodney hopes to inspire people in similar situations to change their lives, "I'm just a much happier person and I'm able to do a lot more."
BOXING FOR PALM ISLAND
BARNGNGRNN MARRANGU STORY
BRAN NUE DAY