“Muckaty Voices", a short film capturing Aboriginal resistance to the Australian government plan to dump radioactive waste in the Northern Territory, was due to open the
first exclusively Australian film festival in Berlin today, Friday 16 September.
Muckaty Station, 120 kilometres north of Tennant Creek, is being assessed by the federal government for a low and long-lived intermediate level radioactive waste facility, despite sustained opposition from Aboriginal traditional owners, pastoralists and the Territory government and community.
Muckaty was nominated in 2007 as a possible dump site by the Northern Land Council, an Aboriginal land owners organisation, and a small group of traditional owners hoping for a combination of cash and improved services like roads, housing and education. Many other traditional owners oppose the plan and have been highly critical of the process and approach taken by Resource Minister Martin Ferguson.
The government’s push for Muckaty has sparked widespread criticism from trade unions, national health and environment groups and Indigenous groups, including the Central Land Council, another Aboriginal group.
Five of the 18 films to be shown today, Saturday and Sunday have Aboriginal themes, one is about the dangers of mining uranium, of which Australia has the world’s largest deposit, and one about a German-raised Turkish immigrant’s uphill struggle to popularize solar energy with a company he has started in Perth.
Director of the festival is Sydney-born 28-year-old. Frances Hill. Having moved to Berlin in 2006, she expects to finish a Master’s degree in European Studies at the Viadrina University in Frankfurt/Oder this year. Contact: email@example.com, phone: +49 157 7274 8284.
The “Down Under Berlin - Australian Film Festival” is organized by a group of film-loving Australian and German volunteers, and financed through donations and the support of the Berlin business community. Berlin hosts a wide spectrum of film festivals.
The organizers write on their website: “As beginnings are always ‘wild’, this year we will focus on alternative and independent productions, that exist beyond the artistic and political mainstream, and give us an exciting look into Australians and their cultures: ‘We show you Australia how it really is: raw, rough and real.’”
The festival will take place in Kino Moviemento in Kreuzberg, Berlin’s most cosmopolitan and most rebellious borough.
Other festival films with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander content:
Jabiru 0886: Trespass - The Mirarr people have lived in the Kakadu region of the Northern Territory for more than 40,000 years. But for more than 25 years the Australian government has allowed uranium to be mined from their sacred lands. With only few Mirrar left, their culture and language are threatened by extinction. To save her community, one Mirarr woman, Yvonne Margarula, has led a successful non-violent campaign against both the Australian government and two of the world’s largest mining companies.
Cracks in the Mask - A documentary about the elaborate turtle-shell masks that were made in the Torres Strait, but have long since disappeared – now they can only be seen in museums on the other side of the world. Ephraim Bani tells the story of his people and their traditions, some of which may be lost forever. A film about cultural objects, and their place in both the culture from which they came and the museums that tell us stories of the past.
Our Generation - This film looks at the ongoing Australian Aboriginal struggle for land, culture and freedom. The remote Yolngu community features as one of the last remaining culturally strong areas. This film shows a side of Australia unknown to many who live outside the vast country. Historians, indigenous leaders, musicians and human rights activists are part of the culture clash that remains in modern Australia.
Back to Me - A young woman gets ready for a party at her house. She meets a guy who asks “What are you?” What he really means is: where are you from? She makes up an answer, not wanting to say what she really is. A Spirit Woman appears to her, reminding her where she comes from.
"Muckaty Voices" was produced with the support of the Beyond Nuclear Initiative by Eleanor Gilbert and Natalie Wasley. Eleanor Gilbert is an independent documentary film maker with Enlightning Productions. She is also a researcher and ecologist, who married ‘a good teacher’, Aboriginal activist, Kevin Gilbert (1933-93) as her Wiradjuri partner. She has experience in research, writing, editing, cinematography and video production and films with diverse grass-roots Aboriginal communities through to the United Nations.
Natalie Wasley has been a nuclear free activist for the last ten years, travelling across Australia and the world to meet and support affected communities. She has campaigned, blockaded and walked thousands of kilometres to inform people of the dangers of the nuclear industry. She has coordinated the national campaign against the Muckaty waste dump proposal for the last five years.