Here I Am Film Screening

When filmmaker Beck Cole’s directorial debut screens in town tonight it will be like a homecoming for her.

Beck has big family connections here and, although she grew up bouncing between Alice Springs and Adelaide, she also travelled the 500km north to Tennant Creek countless times to visit relatives.

Here I Am, which tells the story of an Indigenous woman, Karen, trying to rebuild her life after being released from jail, received an outstanding ovation at its world premier at the Adelaide Film Festival earlier this year.

Now it’s locals’ turn to be entranced by the film on Wednesday, 31 August, as part of the Desert Harmony Festival – and what better way to watch it than under the stars in the leafy gardens of Nyinkka Nyunyu. “I’m very fond of Tennant,” said Beck down the crackly line of her mobile as she tried to negotiate Sydney traffic with two young children. “I’ve a big mob of family there and I’m glad the film is going to be screened in town.”

Beck Cole, left, on set with Shai Pittman as Karen. Image courtesy of Scarlett Pictures

Beck started writing the tale of an Indigenous woman “on the brink” after she had her first daughter five years ago. “I was drawn to making a film about mothers and their children. And I also thought that I wanted to deal with some of the difficulties that women have and experience throughout life – particularly women that live an underprivileged sort of life,” she said.

Then life intervened. Beck’s idea was put on the backburner as other projects came her way, like co-writing and directing the SBS history series First Australians and being involved with the fly-on-the-wall documentary on her partner Warwick Thornton’s acclaimed feature film Samson & Delilah.

As a consequence the story changed dramatically through time with the only constant being the main character Karen, played by Shai Pittman. Beck had a “really strong idea” about who Karen was and the kind of life she would lead in attempting to make good and reconnect with her past.

Here I Am has been a long journey for me but the reason for wanting to tell this story has always been the same,” said Beck. “I strongly wanted to make a film about a family of women on the brink of no return. A family that has suffered loss, grief, anger and resentment but was glued together by love – and in this story love is a child.”

Central to the production of Beck’s film was producer Kath Shelper. “We share a great friendship as well as a working relationship, both of which have developed over the past seven years or so we have been a team – along with our third wheel Warwick Thornton,” said Kath, who runs Scarlett Pictures in Sydney. “Together we have a terrible sense of humour, which often gets us into trouble.

In fact, it’s the humour and joy which Beck hopes the audience will mainly get out of watching Here I Am. “I hope that the audience will come away with a sense of joy and hopefully a smile on their face because although the film does deal with many difficult issues and emotions and obstacles that Karen goes through, I hope the audience really wants to back her up and see that she gets to where she wants to go.”

Here I Am screens at Nyinkka Nyunyu on Wednesday, 31 August, at 7.30pm. This event is free.


Song Peoples Sessions

Only 3 days to go until the not-to-be-missed Song Peoples Sessions concert this Friday 2 September!

Featuring Warren H Williams and the Warumungu Songmen, and Shellie Morris and the Borroloola Songwomen, the Song Peoples Sessions celebrates song as the essence of Indigenous knowledge, language and culture.

Winanjjara, the double Song Peoples Sessions CD by Warren H Williams’ and the Warumungu Songmen, will be launched at the concert.

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You can listen to two sample tracks from Winanjjara and one track from Shellie Morris and the Borroloola Songwomen’s forthcoming album Ngambala Wiji li-Wunungu:

Come on a journey to the heart of Indigenous culture with the Song Peoples Sessions.

When: Friday 2 September at 7 pm

Where: Nyinkka Nyunyu Art and Culture Centre, Paterson St, Tennant Creek, Northern Territory

This is a free event. Cafe open. No alcohol.

Take a tour of the Song Peoples Sessions blog:

Read the article in today’s Age:

Opera Australia’s Oz Opera presents La traviata

Opera Australia’s Oz Opera drove in off the highway from Mt Isa on Monday night, and by 8.00 am the next morning the tech crew were hard at work unloading and setting up in the Civic Hall.

Excitement had been building for weeks in Tennant Creek for this satellite Festival event. Two years ago, when Oz Opera last came to town, people were enthralled by Madame Butterfly. And on Tuesday night, their expectations for another magnificent Oz Opera performance were met: La Traviata, Verdi’s great love story, was a huge hit.

Thank you to Mrs Judy Nixon, Francine McCarthy and the Patta Aboriginal Corporation for the Welcome to Country. And a big thank you goes out to Ross, Alan, Peter, Sam, Jordan and Dirk – locals who were employed to assist the Oz Opera crew and without whom the show might not have been possible!

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Festival image

Soon we’ll be sharing the highlights of the official Day 1 of this year’s Desert Harmony Festival, but right now we’d like to introduce you to Kaye Beasley, who was the winner of our Festival image competition earlier in the year. Kaye’s image was selected from almost 100 entries.

Kaye’s winning painting is called ‘Three Flowers’. When Kaye first started working in this style she exclaimed, ‘I have been lost with paint, but I have found my way now!  Now I will be right.’

Kaye is from Epenarra (Wutungurra), south-east of Tennant Creek. Her artwork has been exhibited at Mossgreen Gallery in Melbourne, Bleeding Heart Gallery in Brisbane, Birrung Gallery in Sydney, and Tandanya in Adelaide.

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Lantern-making 2

Barkly Regional Arts’ Youth Arts Manager, Emma Newman, has pulled out all the stops! She’s helped students and teachers at the primary school make 80 gorgeous lanterns to enchant the audience at the school’s concert on Thursday 1 September. And the pods under construction at the Drovers Hall have now got colour and innards. Be in Tennant Creek’s main street for the parade on Friday 26 August at 5 pm to see them bounce along. And afterwards at the Youth Performance at Nyinkka Nyunyu you will see them glowing stage-side…

Thank you to all the makers and to T&J Contractors: beautiful work!

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Festival Shutterbug Competition


Will you be armed with a digital camera at this year’s Desert Harmony Festival?

The Festival Shutterbug Competition gives you the chance to win Rex Dupain’s fabulous Australia: 150 Photos, a Desert Harmony Festival t-shirt and bag, PLUS your photo might be selected to be displayed in the main street of town for next year’s 2012 Desert Harmony Festival.

All you have to do is snap away at any of the Desert Harmony Festival events and upload your photos to the Festival Shutterbug Competition Flickr group. For more information and details on how to enter, download an information sheet here:

Festival Shutterbug Competition information sheet. doc

Festival Shutterbug Competition information sheet pdf

To enter, download an entry form here:

Festival Shutterbug Competition entry form

The Kiss, footy, a bee sting, popcorn…FILMS

Tonight’s the night for the St Kilda Film Festival showcase of 11 of Australia’s best short films. Come on up to Battery Hill (Peko Rd) to see the selection: everything from edgy black comedy to documentary, drama, romance, comedy. The door charge of $10 full/$8 concession includes free popcorn brought to you by the creative team at Barkly Regional Arts. Preparations are underway now…

See you for 7.30 pm (doors open at 7.00 pm). Cool drinks available to buy; enjoy the views over Tennant Creek from the deck.

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