In This Together: Screen events mark Reconciliation Week

Choose from a rich selection of Indigenous film, TV and live events to mark this National Reconciliation Week #InThisTogether2020.

The dates for National Reconciliation Week (NRW) remain the same each year: 27 May to 3 June. These dates commemorate two significant milestones – the successful 1967 referendum, and the High Court Mabo decision respectively.

The theme for National Reconciliation Week 2020 is ‘In This Together’ and the hashtags to join in are #NRW2020 and #InThisTogether2020. This year is special because it recognises the anniversary 20 years ago when more than 250,000 people walked across the Sydney Harbour Bridge in solidarity and apology for the Stolen Generations.

Marches and large gatherings are out of the question right now due to COVID-19, but we are all in this together during a unique Reconciliation Week. Staying at home, glued to screens seems the best and safest way to participate, and luckily there are many entertaining and meaningful ways to do so.

In the words of the Reconciliation Council, this week ‘is a time for all Australians to learn about our shared histories, cultures, and achievements, and to explore how each of us can contribute to achieving reconciliation in Australia.’

There’s never been a better time to sample, celebrate and enjoy Indigenous stories on screen. Here is just a taste of what’s on offer.

NITV and SBS

The national Indigenous television station leads the way with a suite of programs and events all week, as well as the Reconciliation Film Club where people can host and promote screenings of Indigenous films. 

As NITV station manager Tanya Denning Orman has said, ‘We always feel pride in informing and educating Australians about our shared histories and achievements through extraordinary Indigenous stories of struggle, courage and celebration. We continue to do so with this year’s Reconciliation Week offerings’.

Highlights include: 

  • Saturday, May 30 at 9pm: Bamaya tribute to country and a showcase of Australia’s most stunning landscapes from the Torres Straits to Tasmania.  
  • Monday, June 1: Fire Keepers of Kakaduan Indigenous Australian documentary, follows the oldest surviving culture on Earth, the Bininj people of Kakadu, as they fight to preserve their 65,000-year-old practice of maintaining biodiversity and controlling the intense and dangerous bushfires of Australia.
  • Tuesday, June 2: Warburdar Bununu: Water Shielda landmark film co-produced by Borroloola elders, set in the late 70s, to expose the threat to their homelands from mining development.
  • Thursday, June 4: Saving Seagrass, an exploration of the priceless environment of Roebuck Bay, Western Australia – the traditional lands of the Yawuru people – now under threat on many fronts.
  • Wednesday, June 3 (Mabo Day), 9.30pm: WIK vs Queenslanda powerful insight into the High Court’s decision to grant native title to the Wik people in 1996 and the dramatic political and cultural fallout that followed. 
  • SBS On Demand will stream Mabo: Life of an Island Man: An award-winning documentary about the private and public stories of a man so passionate about his family and home that he fought an entire nation and its legal system.

This year, NITV celebrates the works of award-winning Arrente filmmaker Warwick Thornton, with the world premiere of The Beach on Friday, May 29 at 7.30pm across NITV, SBS and SBS On Demand. Also on these platforms, a slate of Thornton (and related) films including:

  • Thursday, May 28 8.30pm: Sweet Country
  • Thursday, May 28 10.25pm: Green Bush
  • Saturday, May 30 7.35pm: She Who Must Be Loved
  • Sunday, May 31 8.05pm: We Don’t Need a Map
  • Sunday, May 31 9.35pm: The Point: Warwick Thornton is Here

A collection of NITV films and documentaries also streams on SBS On Demand for National Reconciliation Week 2020. They include: First Australians, children’s drama Thalu and animation series Little J and Big Cuz, slow TV event Marni, and Milpirri: Winds of Change.

Read more: Warwick Thornton’s big time-out at The Beach.

ABC and iView

Highlights include:

  • Ongoing ABC News special coverage, ‘Walking Together’, an ABC-wide initiative to reflect, listen and build on the shared national identity of Indigenous and non-Indigenous people, celebrating and acknowledging Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander culture and inviting all Australians to walk together on a journey to reconciliation.
  • Rage Reconciliation Week Rap and Hip Hop Special this Saturday, May 30 from 11am, and later that night from 11pm on ABC TV.
  • ABC Education has created great teaching resources for educators and students around the Adam Goodes documentary The Australian Dream.

SAFC Indigenous Collection

  • The South Australian Film Corporation has compiled this list of their supported Indigenous content to celebrate Reconciliation Week. There are feature films, documentaries and shorts, all available to watch on demand via various linked platforms. Our picks include Top End Wedding, Sweet Country, Here I Am and Larissa Behrendt and Darren Dale’s new documentary Maralinga Tjarutja, available via ABC iView.
  • The SAFC is also providing a free screening of Black Divaz, the documentary about Indigenous drag performers. Viewers are then invited to join a live streamed Q&A with director and writer Adrian Russell Wills and producer Gillian Moody. This will be hosted by SAFC Aboriginal Screen Strategy Executive and Indigenous arts and culture specialist Lee-Ann Tjunypa Buckskin. The film is available to view via Vimeo: Monday 1 June to Tuesday 2 June. The Live Q&A via Facebook will run Tuesday 2 June, 4.00pm to 5.00pm ACST. Register for film and attendance.

Fan Force TV Virtual Indigenous Film Festival

During Reconciliation Week, Fanforce TV is showcasing a variety of Indigenous films followed by live Q&A events and panels. These include In My Blood it Runs (29 May, 7.30pm, and 31 May, 4pm AEST); Zach’s Ceremony (30 May, 6pm) and Gurrumul (28 May, 5.30pm). Audiences have the opportunity to interact with speakers via live chat and throughout the film screening. Full details and tickets available here.

ACMI

The Australian Centre for the Moving Image (ACMI) has special Indigenous guest hosts for its weekly Running Free skills online workshops. ‘From the landmark TV series Blue Water Empire and award-winning film Goldstone, Aaron Fa’aoso shares his tips, experience and journey in sharing the stories of the Torres Strait and its people. [This went live on Wednesday and is available to watch now.]

On Friday, from 10am, ‘Tanya Denning Orman, NITV channel manager and one of the youngest execs in Australian Television will tell us what it takes to get there. She’ll also walk us through the process of commissioning content for Australia’s Indigenous television network.’ These seminars are available on ACMI’s Youtube Channel

Read more: Reconciliation is not only remembering but advocating for change.

Rochelle Siemienowicz is a journalist for Screenhub. She is a writer, film critic and cultural commentator with a PhD in Australian cinema. She was the co-host of Australia's longest-running film podcast 'Hell is for Hyphenates' and has written a memoir, Fallen, published by Affirm Press. You can find her on Twitter and Instagram