OUR GENERATION is a powerful and upfront documentary on the Australian Aboriginal struggle for their land, culture and freedom – a story that has been silenced by the Australian Government and mainstream media. Driven by the remote Yolngu of Northeast Arnhem Land, one of the last strongholds of traditional Aboriginal culture in Australia, as well as the voices of national indigenous leaders, historians and human rights activists, the film explores the ongoing clash of cultures that is threatening to wipe out the oldest continuing culture in the world. With music by John Butler Trio, Yothu Yindi, Xavier Rudd, Gurrumul, Archie Roach, Goanna, Saltwater Band and more.
Australia’s Aborigines have the worst health statistics and living conditions of any Indigenous group in the world, despite living in one of its richest countries. A strong focus of the film is on current government policies that, whilst purporting to close the gap between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians, are further disempowering Aboriginal communities and separating them from their lands, culture and languages. Despite the Government’s National Apology to the Aborigines in 2008, paternalism and assimilation continue to wreak havoc on their lives. The condemnation of the United Nations, by its Special Rapporteur on Indigenous Rights, James Anaya, the Committee to Eliminate Racial Discrimination (CERD) and most recently by the High Commissioner on Human Rights, Navi Pillay, has fallen on deaf ears. The Government is now talking about a second “Intervention” in the Northern Territory. Aboriginal lands and seas contain a large proportion of Australia’s precious natural resources, including uranium, which the Government and mining corporations are determined to exploit. The “Children of the Sunrise” are fighting for freedom. This is their untold story, and their message stick the world.
OUR GENERATION is a ground breaking new documentary on Aboriginal rights, which has ignited a people-power movement across Australia. 3 years in the making, it was made in collaboration with the Yolngu people of Northeast Arnhem Land in Australia’s remote Northern Territory.
Northeast Arnhem Land is one of the last heartlands of traditional Aboriginal culture and law in Australia, and the ancestral home of the yidaki, or didgeridoo. It is also where the famous Bark Petition was handed to the Commonwealth Government in 1963, a demand for recognition of Aboriginal sovereignty which paved the way for such historic victories as the Aboriginal Land Rights Act and later the Mabo decision.
The pride and cultural power of the Yolngu comes through clearly from the start of the film, as the audience is taken deep into their communities, their ceremonies and their way of life. A rare privilege, which opens one’s eyes to the enduring traditional customs and laws of Australia’s First Peoples, still strong in remote parts of the country. But all is not well for the Yolngu. Like other remote Aboriginal communities in Australia, they face shocking third world conditions. Their health is rapidly declining, diabetes and other preventable diseases are sky-rocketing, and the extent of overcrowding is such that on average, a 4 bedroom house will accommodate around 30 people.
The film tackles these issues head-on, by taking us into the past, and showing how the rapid processes of colonization have left the lives of the Aboriginal nations like the Yolngu in turmoil. The imposition of a new diet, a new way of living, and the systematic undermining of their own cultures, languages and systems of law, have left them oppressed and disempowered. It shows how government policies to improve their conditions have consistently been made without any consultation with Aboriginal people. As a result, things have only got worse, and hidden from the eyes of Australia, the oldest living culture in the world is left to die out, as their heritage and lands are exploited.
The film is a powerful and unforgettable rollercoaster journey through Australia’s indigenous relations, from the landing of Captain Cook until today. It looks at the ongoing paternalism and assimilationist drive of successive governments, unveils the real issues underlying Indigenous disadvantage, and exposes the hidden agendas underlying recent government policies, such as the Northern Territory Intervention. Most importantly, it opens up dialogue on how Australia can move forward, with true dignity and respect for its First Peoples. In respect of cultural diversity, and their right to self determination; to genuine conversation around constitutional reform and a Treaty; and in the end, to a reconciled nation.
A movement is building to stand up to genocide against the oldest living culture on Earth. This film is at the heart of that movement.
The Film Makers
Sinem Saban: Writer, Producer, Director. Sinem has had a lifelong passion for Aboriginal rights. With a degree in Media, Legal and Aboriginal Studies, she has been working in Aboriginal communities in Arnhem Land, Northern Territory, for the last 10 years, as a teacher and human rights activist. Previous filmmaking includes the documentary “I Know I’m Not Alone” (Dir. Michael Franti, 2006) on the human costs of war in Iraq, Palestine and Israel. She also co-wrote and directed the first feature length film made by an Australian school, entitled “Premonition” (2003).
Damien Curtis: Writer, Producer. Damien has been working for the last 10 years in empowering tribal peoples to protect their culture and ancestral lands. His previous experiences include working with indigenous communities in the rainforests of Guyana, the Colombian Amazon and in various parts of Africa, with the Gaia Foundation, UNESCO and others. With degrees in Anthropology and Environment & Development, he is committed to strengthening cultural diversity as the foundation for human and environmental wellbeing.