Wednesday, May 25, 2011


We're back from down under!

Andrew and I had the great fortune to be invited to Australia for the Message Sticks Film Festival, hosted at the incredible Sydney Opera House.

We were able to send some time with many talented artists there including Rachel Perkins, Darren Dale, Jessica Beck, and Tammy Davis. All of them are pictured here, except Jess.

Andrew participated in a fantastic panel with Warwick Thorton (writer/director of the Camera d'Or winning film "Samson and Delilah"); Wesley Enoch (playwright, director, artistic director of Queensland Theater Company), Stephen Page (artistic director of the Bangarra Dance Theatre); Hetti Perkins (curator at Art Gallery NSW) and Rachel Perkins (Festival curator of Message Sticks Film Festival).

It was the best panel I've been too in a very long time. Rachel did an excellent job of mediating, leading the discussion with humor, warmth, and candor. It was refreshing to hear such a diverse group of people frankly discuss their experiences as Aboriginal artists in Australia in 2011, as well as the complex politics that go along with it. Andrew functioned as an outside voice that offered a useful comparison from a place with a very different, but not entirely dissimilar, history. I can't quite believe I'm saying this, but I didn't want the panel to end. If they put the video of it online I'll try to post it here.

While we were in Australia, a troubled man climbed the Harbour Bridge in protest over something involving his child's custody case. He made it to the top of the bridge, unfurled a huge banner that said "kids first!" and then stopped traffic for hours and hours because the bridge security there was worried he or someone else would get hurt if cars were allowed to pass by. Anyway, I don't know all the details, but the bridge was quite the topic of conversation. Picture it with a huge ON THE ICE banner instead. Maybe I should give that guy a call.

ON THE ICE is being co-presented by the Sydney Film Festival. We were there for the Sydney Film Festival launch at the Customs House and have a nice page in their program. It is an adventurous collaboration between the two festivals; our film marks their very first co-presentation. I hope it has blazed a trail for other partnerships in the future and we're looking forward to developing it further.

Our second screening in Australia was in a suburb of Sydney called Blacktown. We had a lively Q&A with a diverse audience of people from all over the world. Afterwords we had the great pleasure to meet a wonderful group of Sudanese artists who have settled in Blacktown after being sent there as refugees. Many of them have lived there for over 10 years and told us about their theater work in the community.

Our Blacktown screening started off our national screening tour of Australia. If you live in another area of Australia and would like to see our film please click HERE for more information.

The last thing I'll mention is the moving performance we saw by Ursula Yovich. She did a cabaret night of songs and personal stories that we loved. She's exceptionally talented--quite a diva, in the best sense. She did a beautiful rendition of Somewhere Over the Rainbow in the three languages of her life, Brada, Serbian and English. You can watch a video of her doing it in Melbourne at a different event HERE.

We're back in New York for a short time and then we're off to the Seattle International Film Festival on June 1st. Andrew and I will be mentors in Native Lens' Superfly filmmaking workshop for young people. More on that later.


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