Attending the film premiere of Undermined: Tales from the Kimberley at the Melbourne Film Festival, I got a lot more than I expected.
As I walked into the cinema I expected to sit down, listen to a speech or two from the films director/producers and perhaps hear from the Melbourne Film Festival curator. And yes, these things occurred, but myself and my fellow attendees also got a whole lot more. As well as being able to watch a highly thought provoking and moving documentary film, we were immersed into an exploration of Indigenous culture, participating in a welcome to country and witnessing a live music performance from an Indigenous musician and Indigenous rights leader. There are several influences that these additions left upon the night, two of which I will discuss below:
- It provided unique and illustrious context for the film that was screened.
The film itself did an incredible job providing insight into issues facing the Indigenous people of the Kimberley, it certainly held its own in that right. However, I think having been immersed in Indigenous cultural experiences prior to watching the film truly heightened the whole experience. The words spoken in the welcome to country really made me aware of where I was, and what I was about to watch. The music performance connected me on another level that only music could do. And besides the music itself, it was another lovely insight into Indigenous culture. It reminded me of how important their culture is to our country, so that when I witnessed their plights on screen minutes later, it really did feel closer to home. Whereas if I had have just walked off the street, sat down in the cinema and gone straight into watching the documentary, perhaps my mind would not have been in such a place to absorb the themes and issues the documentary was attempting to get across. The link between Indigenous culture and its place in our country was well made and benefited the film entirely.
- It recognised the premiere’s Indigenous audience
Naturally, a large part of the audience on the night was Indigenous. I believe including Indigenous cultural experiences into the night was a wonderful way of recognising not only that part of the audience, but also recognising the connection that audience had with the narrative playing out on stage. It was a way of paying respects to their culture, their community and their history. In terms of film festival operation, the curator of this night certainly took into consideration the audience of the event.
These influences and others were only made possible through the context of the film premiere belonging to a festival. A spectacle was created, an event. The audience was specific and unique and the event paid respect to that. Equally as specific and unique were the themes and meaning behind the film itself, and so a celebration of culture also became significant and appropriate. The power and influence of a film festival was truly displayed at its best.