Artback NT: Arts Development and Touring presented the 2011 DanceSite event, Wurrpujintta Anyul Warlunjanjjiki – Coming Together to Dance, on the last Saturday of the festival. And come they did! Around 200 dancers and singers travelled to Tennant Creek from across the Barkly, Roper and Central Australia regions to perform under lights at Purkiss Reserve. It was a huge night with over 1500 people watching performances from the hosts, Warumungu Pujjali with Pittangu (Flying Fox), Warumungu Munga Munga (Dreaming Women) and Warlmanpa Milywayi (Snake), and visitors from Alekarenge, Ti-Tree, Papunya, Yuendumu, Borroloola, Mornington Island and Numbulwar.
Performers were welcomed by Warumungu Traditional Owner Mr Jones at a special Welcome to Country at Nyinkka Nyunyu Art and Culture Centre the night before.
Thank you to DanceSite coordinators Renita Glencross and Rose Graham, Daniel Lade of Gigtech, Barkly Regional Arts staff including Adrian McNamara and the Winanjjikari Music Centre crew, the Barkly Shire Council, Barkly Work Camp crews, Mr Jones, emcee Gerry McCarthy MLA, and event and festival volunteers for another great DanceSite.
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 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.
The Barkly Regional Arts team and our event hosts and partners have put together a very fine program for this year’s festival. It kicks off after the footy on Saturday 20 August with a satellite event – the best of Australia’s short films as selected by the St Kilda Short Film Festival 2011. And then we’ve got opera, street theatre, circus workshops, storytelling, our massive photography show ‘Barkly Captured’, music, dance and more.
Can’t wait? The program guide is at the printer but you can check it out online right now: Desert Harmony 2011 Program_ONLINE
Hope you’re as excited as we are!