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Martha Ansara Presents New Australian Independent Cinema

Monday, October 8, 1979
7:00 p.m. Program I: My Survival as an Aboriginal & Protected
Essie Coffey (Australia,1979)
Alessandro Cavadini (Australia,1976)

My Survival as an Aboriginal
is the first film directed by an Aborigine, though with a white crew. Director Essie Coffey, a Murrawarri of far northwestern New South Wales, an activist and musician, is a resident of “Dodge City,” a tiny reserve on the fringe of a white town where her people were dumped after being forced from their tribal grounds. Her film shows the conflicts of living as an Aboriginal under white domination, but it is also part of her effort to make her community proud of their black identity while struggling to survive. This documentary captures the mood and lifestyle of black life in rural New South Wales: On the one hand, white control of black land, white education, white money and laws, white man’s alcohol and white television nightmares; and on the other hand, black attitudes and family life, black education, black country music, a black movement and legal service, traditional food and hunting, and above all, black land. The Aboriginal people still resist and survive. Selected for Oberhausen Film Festival 1979; Documentary Prize, Sydney Film Festival 1979.


• Written and Directed by Essie Coffey. Assistance from Martha Ansara, Annmarie Chandler, Rosalie Higson, Alec Morgan, Kit Guyatt. Music by Essie Coffey (including songs), Fred Edgar, Zac Martin. (1979, 50 mins, color, Print courtesy of Martha Ansara)




Protected
is a dramatized documentary describing life on the Queensland Aboriginal reserve of Palm Island during the 1950s, leading up to the strike in 1957. Palm Island was made a reserve in 1918. In 1937 its inhabitants were brought under the Aborigines Preservation and Protection Act - legislation which was both “protective” and restrictive. No Aborigine was allowed to leave the reserve without the permission of the white superintendent. Medical inspections were compulsory, alcohol banned and food rationed. The 1957 strike was the first time since detribalization that Aborigines had fought for self-determination. Finalist, Documentary Category, Sydney Film Festival 1976; Selected for Oberhausen Film Festival 1977.

• Directed by Alessandro Cavadini. Produced by Carolyn Strachan. Narration by Don Brady, Robert Hughes. Video by Ana Soares. Photographed by Fabio Cavadini. Edited by Ronda MacGregor. With stories and details from the people of Palm Island; personal histories of Willie Thaiday, Albie Geia, Bill Congoo, Iris Clay, Fred Doolan. (1976, 55 mins, color, Print courtesy of Martha Ansara)