Skip to main content

MABO - LIFE OF AN ISLAND MAN

Australia, 1997 (MIFF 1997, Australian)

Director: Trevor Graham

Trevor Graham's biography of Eddie Koiki Mabo belongs to a fine tradition in Aus­tralian documentary filmmaking. Astutely balanc­ing the 'personal' and the 'social', Graham presents a concise history of Eddie Mabo's life and enduring legacy, together with the filmmak­er's friendship and role in the life of his subject.

Mabo was born on Murray Island, but spent most of his life on mainland Australia. Adopted by his uncle after the death of his father, his rela­tionship with the Islanders is best described as troubled; particularly so after he instigated legal proceedings seeking to establish his rights to sizable holdings of land on the island.

This was to establish, paradoxically, a princi­ple that the High Court of Australia would uphold in 1992, five months after Eddie Mabo's death, that indigenous laws of land ownership predated European occupation.

Graham presents a passionate and moving testament to Eddie Mabo and his family, their unflinching dedication to one another and to the causes in which they believed. And, on a more sobering note, an indication of what the realpolitik of contemporary Australia is about. Despite the victory Eddie Mabo achieved in his short life, Graham sounds a sobering and pessimistic note about the possibilities for reconciliation in the current political climate.

See also...

MAKE HUMMUS NOT WAR

The world premiere of a film about love, war, sex, politics… and chickpeas. ... Could a regional love of hummus be the recipe for peace in the Middle East? This was the question on director ... More »

PAINTING THE TOWN

In 1937 YosI Bergner, a 17 year old Polish Jew, arrived in Melbourne seeking refuge from anti-semitism and fascism in Europe. He became an inspirational figure among a community of painters seeking ... More »

AEROPLANE DANCE

On December 1,1942, a US airforce bomber crashed in the south-east corner of the Gulf of Carpenteria after a bombing raid over New Guinea. Four of the crew survived and, thinking they were near ... More »

TOSCA: A TALE OF LOVE AND TORTURE

From the director of Mabo—Life of an Island Man, the producer of Picnic at langing Rock and based on the famous opera by Puccini, Tosca: A Tale of Love and Torture is a documentary like no ... More »

LAND BILONG ISLANDERS

A narrated advocacy documentary about the struggle of the indigenous people of Murray Island (Torres Straits) for land rights. It has been very recently completed by the Melbourne based team which ... More »

THANK GOD HE MET LIZZIE

Thank God He Met Lizzie has a universal theme, yet is unlike any other Australian film. Guy is in his early thirties and looking for that elusive beast - the perfect life partner. The trouble is that ... More »

Select a festival
Search The Film Archive
Browse By Director