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WHITEYS LIKE US

Australia, 1998 (MIFF 1999, Australian Showcase)

Director: Rachael Landers

What goes on in a high school classroom at Manly Community College for two hours on Wednesday nights represents a fascinating microcosm of how white Australians are dealing (or not dealing) with the coun­try's indigenous past and present. Four times a year a group of between ten and fifteen white strangers come together to participate in an eight week reconciliation study circle. These circles were initiated by the Reconciliation Council in 1991 with the "aim of improv­ing relations between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and other Australians".

The documentary focuses on one study circle through its eight sessions and examines the impact Ihe process has on the participants' lives. The internal work­ings of this group and the individual responses to it pro­vide a glimpse of how Australians have reached this dif­ficult, critical, and complex nexus of indigenous and non-indigenous relations and how 'ordinary' Australians grappie with the issues this evokes on a personal basis.

Following producer Tom Zubrycki's past landmark Australian documentaries at the Festival—Exile to Sarajevo (MIFF 1997) and Dr Jazz (MIFF 1998)—he delivers an expose that is in many ways too close to the white Australian bone. Working with director Rachael Landers, whose direction is sensitive without pulling punches Whiteys Like Us is sure to cling to the lips of Festival audiences. Beneath all the media headlines and sensational journalism ot recent race debates, Whiteys Like Us delivers some uncomfortable, yet vital, truths. Simply not to be missed.

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