Australian Indigenous Films Headline 2013 Berlinale

Australian Indigenous Films Headline 2013 Berlinale
Film still from "Samson & Delilah" by Warwick Thornton and Rowan McNamara
( Mark Rogers © Scarlett Pictures )

The 2013 edition of Berlinale, the Berlin International Film Festival, marks the introduction of a brand new series focusing on the cinematic storytelling of Indigenous peoples. In its first year the new programme will introduce audiences to the milestones of Indigenous filmmaking through the four pillars of Indigenous cinematic culture: Australia, New Zealand/Oceania, Canada, and the United States.

Curated by Maryanne Redpath, official Berlinale Delegate for Australia and New Zealand, in conjunction with several experts who are themselves of Indigenous descent, “NATIVe - A Journey into Indigenous Cinema” comprises 24 features, documentaries, and short films from Australia, Oceania, North America, and the Arctic region. 

Australian Indigenous highlights include “Ten Canoes” by Rolf de Heer, a fable of forbidden love, with mythical overtones; the 30-minute documentary “Ngangkari” by Erica Glynn, about spiritual healers in Australia; and “Samson & Delila” by Warwick Thornton,  a road movie and an abstract re-interpretation of the biblical story of the same name.

“Conceptualising such a programme is an extraordinary adventure, especially here in Germany, the homeland of Karl May, where Native Americans are more often than not known as ‘Indians’, people who still live in teepees and smoke peace pipes,” comments NATIVe’s curator Maryanne Redpath.

“This is not about rigidly defining prevailing genres. You have to think beyond the cliché of shamanic sagas that make it to the big screen. There is a place for those as well, but also explosive movies about the contemporary everyday lives of Indigenous peoples,” Redpath says.

The new series was influenced by an event held by Screen Australia’s Indigenous Department that was attended by Berlinale Festival Director Dieter Kosslick. “About four or five years ago Dieter Kosslick came with me and together we attended a reception from the Indigenous Unit of Screen Australia, where Indigenous filmmakers get together every year, explains Redpath. “That year the gathering was held at Sydney Harbour. The atmosphere was fabulous and we met some really impressive people. As a result of the trip we decided to launch this project.”

The 63rd Berlinale is currently taking place across Berlin until February 17.