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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...

RED MATILDAS

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PAINTING THE TOWN

Australia, 1987
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 t… More »

LAND BILONG ISLANDERS

Australia, 1990
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 pr… More »

AEROPLANE DANCE

Australia, 1994
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 Cairn… More »

TOSCA: A TALE OF LOVE AND TORTURE

Australia, 2000
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 othe… More »

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