14 September 2021

Indigenous music video wins three awards at Far South Film Festival

| James Coleman
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Images from 'Bagan, Barra Barra, Mirriwarr'

Bagan, Barra Barra, Mirriwarr (Land, Sea and Sky) features three Indigenous songs. Photo: Far South Film Festival.

A clear winner from the Far South Film Festival has emerged as a suite of three music videos featuring Indigenous songs takes home three awards.

The 10-minute Bagan, Barra Barra, Mirriwarr (Land, Sea and Sky) has snatched up 35 per cent of the vote for the People’s Choice Award after the results came in from an email survey and the numbers were tallied a week ago.

The creative team behind it had previously scooped up awards for Best Film and Best Director at an online ceremony on 22 August, 2021.

Directed by Andrew Robinson, with creative director Cheryl Davison and producer Hiromi Matsuoka, the film was shot in South Pambula and Tilba Tilba on traditional Yuin land, and features three songs sung by the Djinama Yilaga Indigenous choir based at Four Winds in Bermagui.

Mr Robinson said he always had a soft spot for the first song, Ganbi, “mainly because of the struggles we went through earlier in the year with the bushfires”.

He said the concept went from walking back into the scarred landscape and seeing the regrowth happening, to depicting the ravages of the fire in action.

He said the fire scene took the most time to get right.

“We were in the bush at night, lighting it up with red lights to depict fire,” said Mr Robinson. “It looked great, but it did mean we were stumbling around in the bush with spiders.”

Shooting a scene for short film 'Bagan, Barra Barra, Mirriwarr'

A sunrise shoot for short film Bagan, Barra Barra, Mirriwarr. Photo: Hiromi Matsuoka.

Ms Davison said they wanted the film to address how the bushfire affected the local Indigenous people who were “seeing the bush burning and wildlife dying”.

The song, Our Way, was a chance to reflect on family life and takes a more documentary-style approach.

“It’s basically about women sitting down with the kids, eating, playing and telling stories,” said Ms Davison.

The film was originally slated to be performed at the Four Winds Easter Festival, but when COVID-19 restrictions canned that event, she hatched the idea for the songs to be filmed. It was then entered into the Far South Film Festival.

Every year in August, the Far South Film Festival calls for budding filmmakers from Australia’s regional and remote areas to submit short films under 40 minutes in length that reflect the people, environment and issues that matter to them.

For 2021, the event was forced to pivot online because COVID-19 meant that an in-person event was out of the question. The films, Q&A sessions and awards were all streamed online.

All up, the festival’s 15 films registered almost 1000 streams and reached more than 2500 audience members from across Australia.

Image from short film 'The Girl on the Moon'

The Girl on the Moon by Canberra’s Georgina Jenkins. Photo: Far South Film Festival.

Canberra’s Georgina Jenkins won the Diversity Award with science-fiction film The Girl on the Moon. It depicts Aboriginal Australian girl Luna in the year 2069 as the only child ever born on the Moon but who yearns to travel to Earth despite the fact her mother has always told her she’d never survive.

Another local, Joshua Koske from Googong, submitted a psychological thriller entitled Becoming Emma Braintree about a frontline therapist who requires some therapy herself.

The Far South Film Festival is looking forward to its next edition in August 2022. Organisers are already saying it will be a hybrid event with some in-person components taking place in Merimbula while the rest will be online.

Submissions open in early 2022.

Filmmakers and festival goers can follow the Far South Film Festival via its Facebook and Instagram pages.

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