‘Falls Around Her.’

In curating the program for the inaugural BIRRARANGGA Film Festival, Tony Briggs was spoiled for choice.

“I wasn’t surprised to discover there is so much extraordinary work being produced by Indigenous communities around the world,” the actor, writer and director tells IF.

“I attended the imagineNATIVE Film + Media Arts Festival in Toronto last October and it was an eye-opening experience, a confirmation of that talent. A lot of the stories were parallel to my own culture.

“Opportunities are far and few between to get content on screens, particularly from Indigenous filmmakers, so it is exciting to show these works at the festival, aligned with the theme ‘humanity through family and culture.'”

Briggs has selected 13 features and assorted VR works and short films for the festival which will run from April 26-29 at the Australian Centre for the Moving Image, with support from major sponsors Creative Victoria and Film Victoria and presenting partner ACMI.

Emerging filmmakers who attended BLAK Masterclasses for First Nations Victorian creatives staged by Typecast Entertainment, which is owned by Briggs and his wife Damienne Pradier, in partnership with the Compton School and Youthworx, will have the opportunity to pitch projects to industry professionals at the festival.

Allara Briggs-Pattison (Tony’s niece) will screen clips of and discuss Beautiful Sunshine, her debut documentary which follows the Yorta Yorta musician, composer and climate justice activist on her journey of identity and connection with her family, country and culture.

In another session activist, actor, performer, historian and academic Gary Foley will look at the history of the Australian TV and film industry and how actors of the 1970s helped to shape the political voice using comedy to give strength to Indigenous communities.

Briggs and Pradier, who are producing the event for Typecast Entertainment, are assembling a panel for Global Indigenous Female Screen Creatives, a conversation with leading Indigenous female creatives from across the world who are in front of and behind the camera.

‘Edge of the Knife.’

As IF reported the opening film is Canadian film Sgaawaay K’uuna (Edge of the Knife), the first film made by the Haida Gwaii community in their own language. Co-directed by Gwaai Edenshaw and Helen Haig-Brown, it recounts the story of the Gagiixiid or wildman set in the mid-nineteenth century.

The closer is Canadian writer-director Darlene Naponse’s Falls Around Her, which follows legendary singer Mary Birchbark (Tantoo Cardinal) as she abandons a life of fame and fortune to reconnect with her land and her community.

Living in an isolated cabin she begins to have the unsettling feeling she is being watched and quickly finds that doors to the past are not so easily shut. Naponse and Cardinal will take part in a Q&A following the screening.

Other feature films screening are:

Tia and Piujuq (Canada) – Tia, a young Syrian girl new to Montreal, longs for friends when she accidentally discovers a magic portal. Through this portal she meets Piujuq, an equally bored and lonely Inuk girl who introduces Tia to her world. Tia and Piujuq spend their time together connecting through games and Inuit stories when their blossoming friendship is threatened by a mysterious figure.
Tiempo de Lluvia (In Times of Rain) (Mexico) – In her first narrative feature film, director Itandehui Jansen tells a powerful story of economic migration between rural and urban Mexico.
Birth of a Family (Canada) – Three sisters and a brother, adopted as infants into separate families across North America, meet for the first time in this documentary by director Tasha Hubbard.
Wiñaypacha (Eternity) (Peru) – Nestled 5,000 metres above sea level a day’s journey from the nearest town, the modest farmhouse near the peaks of the Andes is the only place Willka and Phaxsi have called home. Elderly but still mobile, the couple tends to their beloved herd of sheep as they live a near-solitary existence of subsistence while they yearn for their long-absent son to return home from the city.
Akornatsinniitut – Tarratta Nunaanni (Among Us – In the Land of Our Shadows) (Greenland) – This suspense-filled sci-fi adventures draws on Greenlandic culture, myth, folklore and legends, with a healthy dose of humour.
Toyon Kyyl (The Lord Eagle) (Russia) – Set in rural Siberia in 1930, when the Soviet presence is just starting to cast its shadow, this film follows an elderly couple, Mikipper and Oppuos, and an eagle who has taken up residence outside their home.
Angelique’s Isle (Canada) – Angelique, a young Anishinaabe woman, and her voyageur husband Charlie are abandoned on Lake Superior’s Isle Royale by a corrupt copper hunter during the copper rush of 1845. The newlywed couple have been left with few provisions and must draw on their strength and perseverance to survive the harsh winter.
Kayak to Klemtu (Canada) – An adventure story following 14-year-old Ella and her family who are determined to travel the length of the Inside Passage to protect their ancestral land from an oil pipeline.

The short film line-up:

• Our Family, Our Culture – A selection of heart-warming stories from across continents highlighting the similarities of cultural values.
• The Reality of Humanity – A series of shorts that explore darker themes that address some of the hard truths faced by our communities.
• Kyindoo Wilam (learning place) – Two short film packages, one consisting of animations and short films from Canada, the other focusing on family and culture, where kids can come and sit, listen and learn together.

For further details including synopses, screening dates, times and ticketing information, go here.

Check back tomorrow for an update on Tony Briggs’ acting and directing career.

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