8 Films for 8 Days this Reconciliation Week
Check out this list of must-watch Australian films from our past Perth Festival programs
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander readers are advised that the following article contains images and names of people who have died.
These incredible Australian films highlight some of the most important and unforgettable stories and performances from Indigenous Australians.
Scroll down and pick out any or all of these essential Australian films to watch and learn about the shared histories and cultures of our country.
1. The Tracker (2002)
An award-winning, iconic piece of Australian cinema about justice and racial prejudice in early 20th century Australia. You won’t forget it.
This unmissable drama stars Australian film legend, David Gulpilil, in one of many extraordinary collaborations with director Rolf de Heer. It played as part of our 2017 Festival event Tracking Country: Rolf de Heer & Molly Reynolds.
When an Aboriginal man is accused of murdering a white woman in 1920s outback Australia, three white men set out on a mission to capture him. Led by an experienced Indigenous tracker (Gulpilil), the crew embark on a mission navigating both the difficult terrain and the rising tension in their relationships with each other.
What the critics say 'The Tracker is one of those rare films that deserves to be called haunting.' Roger Ebert
2. Charlie's Country (2013)
A powerful and deeply personal depiction of our country’s societal imbalances.
Charlie is an Indigenous elder who has lost patience with the white man’s ways. Yearning to live the ‘old way’, Charlie heads out into the wilderness, but his freedom is compromised as he is faced with a series of personal challenges.
Praised by audiences and critics alike, Charlie’s Country is yet another brilliant collaboration from David Gulpilil and Rolf de Heer. The pair created this semi-autobiographical tale together, drawing inspiration from events in Gulpilil’s own life. The feature was selected to compete in the Un Certain Regard section at Cannes Film Festival 2014, with Gulpilil’s captivating performance winning him Best Actor.
This amazing film was also part of our 2017 event Tracking Country.
What the critics say 'Powerful, compassionate and a pleasure to watch...Don’t miss it.' SBS
3. In My Blood It Runs (2019)
A thoughtful and passionate look at how the education system is failing our First Nations children, shown through the eyes of a 10-year-old boy.
A personal documentary and an essential portrait of Australian youth, In My Blood It Runs made a huge impact on our audiences in 2020, and for good reason, this one will stick with you for days and weeks after watching.
Follow Dujuan, an inquisitive young Arrernte/Garrwa boy who speaks three languages, understands his Aboriginal culture and loves his country. Dujuan has an obvious spark and intelligence, and seems to have a happy future in Alice Springs, but despite all of this he is ‘failing’ at school. As he faces increasing scrutiny from welfare and police, Dujuan’s family fight to keep him safe and battle to give him a strong Arrernte education alongside his western schooling.
What the critics say 'Quietly masterful portrait of growing up Indigenous.' The Guardian
4. Gurrumul (2018)
An illuminating portrait of the life and career of one of Australia’s all-time greatest artists.
This hugely popular film was the winner of our Golden Deckchair audience award in 2018. If you haven't seen it by now, you definitely should!
This critically-acclaimed documentary follows Geoffrey Gurrumul Yunupingu over the course of ten years, and was completed just days prior to Gurrumul’s passing in July 2017. Gurrumul is a beautiful celebration of a man who connected people in profound ways, who shouldered vast responsibilities of Australian cultures, and points to an extraordinary legacy.
What the critics say 'For Gurrumul fans, the film is obviously a must-see. For those unfamiliar, or vaguely familiar with his work, it’s an even greater treat: they will be entertained, enthralled, perhaps in some small way changed.' The Guardian
5. High Ground (2020)
A Western-style revenge drama filled with both the breathtaking beauty and savage ugliness of this country.
This truly spectacular film blew our audiences away at this years' Lotterywest Films season.
Partly inspired by real events, High Ground is the story of two men on a mission to prevent a bloody war. In remote Yolŋu Country, Travis is a former World War I sniper who left the police force after an operation gone wrong results in the massacre of an Indigenous tribe. Twelve years on, he returns to try and help track down Baywara, the leader of a defiant mob whose attacks on new settlers are causing devastation. Leading Travis on his journey is Aboriginal tracker, Gutjuk, the only known massacre survivor who is trying to save the last of his family, his uncle, Baywara.
What the critics say 'Unmistakable, unshakeable power emanates from this enthralling film.' ScreenHub
6. Ten Canoes (2006)
A surreal adventure where traditional elements of Indigenous culture meet universal themes of dramatic storytelling.
A testament to the power of storytelling this film is another one on our list that featured in our Tracking Country event in 2017.
Set in the distant past Ten Canoes is a story within a story, following a young warrior as he wanders the wilderness with his brother. When it becomes clear that he has coveted his brother’s wife, he is told an ancestral tale of sorcery and revenge to teach him the proper way.
With the action spoken entirely in Indigenous Ganalbingu language, Ten Canoes is narrated in English by the prolific David Gulpilil.
What the critics say 'This film is not just the re-awakening of tradition and pride in a contemporary indigenous audience but also historical, personal and aesthetic lessons for a non-indigenous audience.' SBS
7. Satellite Boy (2012)
An emotionally-rich drama showcasing the family ties of Indigenous Australians.
A celebration of family, friendship, courage and cultural identity, Satellite Boy captivated audiences at our 2013 Festival. This one is a great weekend watch for the whole family.
Set in a remote community in the Kimberley, this visually stunning and sweet natured film follows 12 year old Pete who lives with his elderly grandfather at an abandoned outdoor cinema. When his grandfather's home is threatened with demolition by a mining company, Pete sets off for the city on a mission to find the company’s headquarters and change their minds.
What the critics say 'Tough-minded and smart and it has the sweet smell of lived experience embedded in every frame.' SBS
8. Another Country (2015)
David Gulpilil guides you on an exploration of his own community and how life there was derailed by western culture.
Narrated and guided by the incomparable Australian actor David Gulpilil (yep, he features in many of these films and for good reason), Another Country speaks to the havoc caused by enforcing a new culture over an old one. Set in Gulpilil’s home community of Ramingining in North East Arnhem Land, this film is an incredibly important look at the culture clashes of white Australia and our Indigenous people, and has been described as “essential viewing” for all Australians.
Another Country played as part of the 2017 Festival event Tracking Country: Rolf de Heer & Molly Reynolds.
What the critics say 'Molly Reynolds' forceful yet contemplative essay film Another Country depicts a world that feels both near at hand and far away.' The Sydney Morning Herald
Where to watch? SBS On Demand