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2010 Event Media Release - Message Sticks

Media Release: Thursday April 15, 2010

Message Sticks Indigenous Film Festival 2010

6– 8 May,
Sydney Opera House

Presented in association with Blackfella Films and Screen Australia

Message Sticks Indigenous Film Festival returns to Sydney Opera House from 6 – 8 May 2010 for three days of free films screenings, showcasing the best of Indigenous cinema in Australia and around the world. 

In its 11th year, the Message Sticks Indigenous Film Festival will celebrate the beginning of another decade of Indigenous storytelling with five world premieres, four Australian premieres, Q&A sessions with filmmakers and the staging of a mass Aboriginal Karaoke hosted by Ernie Dingo.

For over ten years, the annual Message Sticks Indigenous Film Festival has been a highlight in the Sydney Opera House calendar, showcasing the breadth and diversity of Indigenous culture and artists. In 2009, the Festival won the IF Award for Best Australian Film Festival and premiered Warwick Thornton’s Cannes winner Samson and Delilah.

To kick off its next decade, this years festival focuses on a new crop of the most exciting and challenging filmmakers. Curated by Rachel Perkins and Darren Dale from Blackfella Films, the festival will present 13 feature, documentary and short films by these emerging Indigenous directors from Australia and abroad.

“Film powerfully reveals the world of the storyteller, and our festival is unique in its exclusive focus on Indigenous storytellers. Over the past 10 years, Message Sticks has gathered a loyal collection of people who come together to share this world as a family of sorts; both on screen, behind the camera and in the audience. Message Sticks is precious as one of a small number of Sydney’s annual events that carves out a space, where for a moment we share the experience of Black Australians," Rachel Perkins said.

Sydney Opera House Chief Executive Richard Evans said, “We have long celebrated Indigenous arts and culture while also providing training and employment for young Indigenous people through a targeted program of traineeships. Sydney Opera House is proud to be aligned with Message Sticks.”

Opening this year’s Festival on Thursday May 6 will be two world premieres by talented director Adrian Wills. Adrian is rapidly establishing a reputation for his intimate, behind the scene portrayals of Black Australia and his one hour documentary Boxing for Palm Island is no exception. It, tells of the revival of boxing on Palm Island, a place with a dark history and a notorious reputation. Now, a new generation of warriors is fighting back and taking the future into their own hands with the support of Uncle Ray – the man who has revived boxing on the Island,.

Adrian will also premiere his latest short, Daniel’s 21st starring Deborah Mailman. It's Daniel's 21st birthday and something has gone horribly wrong. As Daniel struggles into darkness, he returns home to his Mother who is frightened that he is in some sort of trouble that she can't bail him out of.

In an Australian premiere, Reel Injun, by Canadian director Neil Diamond, takes an entertaining and insightful look at the creation of the Hollywood Indian we have all become familiar with. Travelling through the heartland of America, Cree filmmaker Neil Diamond looks at how the myth of “the Injun” has influenced the world’s understanding – and misunderstanding – of ‘Natives’. Featuring candid interviews with directors, writers, actors and activists, including Clint Eastwood, Jim Jarmusch, and others, plus clips from hundreds of classic and recent films, The film mirrors the experience of Indigenous Australians, who are moving from misrepresented subjects, to calling the shots behind camera.

First time filmmaker Mary Munro premieres a very personal documentary, Nin’s Brother, following her family as they journey from NSW to South Australia to unravel the fate of their brother and uncle and to bring him home to a proper resting place alongside the graves of his family.

In another world premiere, we meet Aboriginal Australia’s answer to the biggest loser in Big Fella. Director Michael Longbottom returns to Message Sticks with another documentary from his community at La Perouse; the story of his mate Rodney, who is struggling with the crippling affects of diabetes and obesity. A common experience in Indigenous communities, this is one man’s love for life, his battle to stay alive, and his fight against the demons of preventable disease.

Genevieve Grieves’ powerful, debut documentary, Lani's Story, follows a woman’s experience of two relationships – one she has to escape to survive, the other she cannot survive without. It is a moving and intimate portrait of a young woman’s journey from victim to victor, from a broken and violent relationship to discovering the redemptive power of love. Lani’s Story also explores the impact of intergenerational violence within a family and community and how the courage of one person can transform the lives of others.

On Saturday May 8, the Message Sticks Indigenous Film Festival presents an afternoon of shorts from the nations that lead Indigenous filmmaking globally; Australia, New Zealand, Canada and the USA. Showing from 1pm – 2.30pm, films include: Shimasani (USA), Nundhirribala’s Dream (AUS), Barngngrnn Marrangu Story (AUS), as well as a repeat screening of Daniel’s 21st (AUS) and two world premieres, Redemption (NZ), The Cave (CAN).

And finally, what better way to complete this year’s festival than to join host ‘Uncle Tadpole’ (Ernie Dingo) for an Aboriginal karaoke version of Bran Nue Dae. Based on the stage musical by Jimmy Chi and featuring an all-star cast including Geoffrey Rush, Ernie Dingo, Magda Szubanski, Missy Higgins, Dan Sultan, Jessica Mauboy and Deborah Mailman, Bran Nue Dae is the Australian musical hit of 2010. Complete with song lyrics to guide the audience through and special guests, the debut of this interactive musical experience is the perfect end to Australia’s only Indigenous film festival.

Every screening will be followed by a short Q&A session with the subjects and directors of the films.



8.15 pm – 10pm GALA RED CARPET PREMIERE & PARTY – list films

7pm – 8.30pm

11am – 12.10pm 

1pm – 2.30pm  

3.15pm – 4.45pm

5.30pm – 6.30pm

7.30pm – 9pm
BRAN NUE DAY Karaoke style

• All sessions are  except opening night are FREE! Places are limited so get there early.
• When you arrive, you must collect a free ticket in the Playhouse foyer. Tickets are available from one hour before each session begins, and are valid for that session only. Limit of TWO free tickets per person per session.
• Please note that NO free tickets are available for the Opening Night Gala. A limited number of tickets are available to buy for this event.

WESTERN SYDNEY PROGRAM This year, Blackfella Films and Blacktown Arts Centre are proud to announce that the 2010 Message Sticks Film Festival will simultaneously run in Blacktown. For further information, visit or call (02) 8369 6558

Media Enquiries: Helene Fox, Sydney Opera House, Publicist 02 9250 7805 / 0412 085 032 or


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