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Queensland Art Gallery | Gallery of Modern Art
Production still from Toomelah 2011 / Director: Ivan Sen / Image courtesy: Curious Films
31 MAY 2013
A major film program curated by the Queensland Art Gallery | Gallery of Modern Art’s (QAGOMA) Australian Cinémathèque will present a survey of Indigenous Australian cinema alongside works by international indigenous and black filmmakers that explore themes of identity, culture and rights.

QAGOMA Director Chris Saines said My Life as I Live It: First Peoples and Black Cinema would screen at GOMA from June 1 to September 1, accompanying the exhibition ‘My Country, I Still Call Australia Home: Contemporary Art from Black Australia’.

‘The free film program considers the important work of first peoples and black filmmakers from Australia, New Zealand, Canada, the United States and United Kingdom,’ Mr Saines said.

‘The program takes its title from Essie Coffey’s landmark 1995 documentary concerning contemporary Aboriginal communities working towards self-determination.

‘Coffey directed some of the first documentaries by an Indigenous Australian about Indigenous experience, and her film My Survival as an Aboriginal 1978 will open the program on Saturday June 1.

Mr Saines said the program would include feature films, shorts and documentaries that show how film and video have been used since the late 1970s as a radical form of self-representation and self-empowerment, and highlight the key filmmakers who paved the way for more autonomous indigenous and black filmmaking.

‘My Life as I Live It celebrates these ground-breaking films and filmmakers and highlights some of the emerging voices who are reflecting on the contemporary realities of first peoples and black communities,’ he said.

‘The resilience of young people is shown in Warwick Thornton’s Samson and Delilah 2009 and Sterlin Harjo’s Four Sheets to the Wind 2007, in which protagonists carve out a distinct sense of self alongside family and tradition.

‘The challenges faced by urban first peoples and the desire to connect to ancestral culture is explored in Shane Belcourt’s Tkaronto 2007, Yves Sioui Durand’s Mesnak 2011 and Darlene Johnson’s moving portraits of Indigenous actors David Gulpilil and Frances Daingangan.’

Mr Saines said the program also includes a number of ground-breaking documentaries that frame the lives of ordinary individuals in the retelling of national histories.

‘Rachel Perkins and Beck Cole’s First Australians 2008 presents a history of Australia from an indigenous perspective, from 1788 to the High Court’s 1992 Mabo ruling, while the events of the African-American Civil Rights movement are captured in Eyes on the Prize 1987, and We Shall Remain 2009 covers critical moments in US history from the perspective of Native Americans,’ he said.

‘The powerful legacy of activist film is seen in Mereta Mita’s Patu 1983, which captured the civil unrest when New Zealanders protested the 1981 South African Rugby tour to show solidarity with victims of apartheid.’

Films in the program screen Wednesday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday in Cinema. The Audi GOMA Bar is open from 5.30pm on Friday nights.

For full film notes and screening times see

In addition to My Life as I Live It: First Peoples and Black Cinema, from July 12 to August 4, the Australian Cinémathèque presents a program of the seven known surviving films of Oscar Micheaux (1884–1951), the first major African American filmmaker, whose work is acclaimed for its blend of astute drama and biting commentary on race relations. The three silent films in the program will feature live piano accompaniment by acclaimed Berlin-based pianist, composer and singer–songwriter Paul Hankinson.

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Opening Hours
Monday to Friday  10.00am – 5.00pm
Saturday and Sunday  9.00am – 5.00pm
(The Gallery has late opening hours when evening
Australian Cinémathèque screenings are scheduled.)