A new series showcasing the best of Australia’s Indigenous documentary makers has hit the small screen this week on SBS’s NITV.
Karla Grant presents will introduce, discuss and critique documentaries from Indigenous filmmakers and will be presented by journalist and Arrernte woman Karla Grant herself.
“We have an enormous amount of beautiful documentaries that have been made by these established and emerging filmmakers … we felt that we really needed to give them a home and give them some love,” Ms Grant said of the idea behind this new series.
The show will first present a four-part series called Elements, created by filmmakers from north Queensland, which explores Indigenous peoples’ connection to the four elements: earth, wind, fire, and water.
“It shows the deep connection Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people have with the four elements,” Ms Grant said.
The first part explores the Lardil people of Mornington Island’s connection to earth.
Narrated simply and beautifully, Traditional Owners tell Dreaming stories overlaid with sweeping drone shots of a lush Mornington Island.
“[Elements] is just a beautiful documentary … really beautifully shot, very cinematic,” Ms Grant said.
“These stories are told by local people and interesting characters, I really connected with all of them … expressing and explaining our deep connection that we have with our land. It’s not just land to us but it’s our Mother Earth.”
An advocate of learning more about culture, Ms Grant said she herself learned a lot from the ‘wind’ episode of Elements which explores the connection Torres Strait Islanders on Saibai Island have to the wind.
“[Torres Strait Islanders] are so connected with the wind, they live by the wind … depending on what’s happening with the wind that’s what they’ll be doing that day,” Ms Grant said.
“It really gives people a fascinating insight to our culture.”
Another documentary, The Kimberley Man, will see viewers exploring the Kimberley region of WA and learning about WA’s first Indigenous parliamentarian Ernie Bridge through his grandson’s eyes – the film’s writer and director – Jeremy Thomson.
“He uncovers a lot about what happened … what Ernie went through to become Western Australia’s first Indigenous parliamentarian and the first Aboriginal person to be in the Cabinet in any parliament in Australia,” Ms Grant said.
“It sort of brought a tear to my eye actually, what he had to go through to get elected.”
Ms Grant said choosing the documentaries for the series wasn’t difficult as NITV has a wide selection of documentaries by Indigenous creatives.
“We’re really showing the best of the best,” Ms Grant said.
“Not only are we showing the stories of our people … we’re also supporting our filmmakers and giving them a platform for showing their works.”
On the importance of these kinds of projects, Ms Grant said broadcasting documentaries like these allows Indigenous Australians to continue telling the stories they’ve been telling for thousands of years.
“It’s a way of expressing ourselves, expressing our culture, expressing our spirituality … our connection to land and sea and to the wind – to all the elements,” Ms Grant said.
“It’s also a way of … sharing our culture with the rest of the country … educating and making people aware of our deep connection that we have to our country. It’s really important to share those stories … with the rest of the nation so we can take them on a journey as well.”
Ms Grant hopes anyone who views the program will learn something new and take it with them into their lives.
“I learnt a lot from watching them and I think the audience will as well,” Ms Grant said
“[The show] gives our filmmakers a platform for sharing their stories, and also our mob for sharing their stories, a platform that they don’t otherwise have anywhere else. I really hope that people will tune in and watch these beautiful documentaries.”
Karla Grant presents airs Monday nights at 8.30pm on NITV.
By Hannah Cross