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BLACK MAN'S HOUSES

Australia, 1992 (MIFF 1992, Documentaries)

Director: Steve Thomas

Avoiding didacticism, this film raises some f of the most current concerns facing the i resurgence of Aboriginal culture in Australia today. Underpinning the film, which has its world premiere here, is a reappraisal of the assertion that Aboriginal culture was destroyed in Tasmania. European Australians have maintained comfortable assumptions about Aboriginal culture, assumptions that are challenged through the telling of the land rights dispute over Wybalenna, situated on Flinders Island in Bass Straight. It was there in the 1830s that the ill-fated settlement of Wybalenna (Black Man's Houses) was established and became a place of internment for the black survivors of the struggle between Aboriginals and Europeans in Tasmania. The film documents the re-occupation of Wybalenna by Aborigines and their search for the mass graves of their ancestors. Through the personal stories of members of the Aboriginal community the film is a celebration of survival and the emerging awareness of what, in this context, Aboriginality means today.

Having survived the attempted genocide, the systematic corrosion of their culture and the denial of their ancestry, the survivors of the genocide are now making claims to land and justice. Black Man's Houses reassesses historical assumption, documents the land rights dispute on Flinders Island, but most importantly, examines Aboriginality as it exists there today. • Gregory Miller

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