Uluru & the Magician Unclassified 18+
Viewer advice: Contains themes of violence and oppression against Indigenous Australians
A Sydney magician devises a stunt to disappear Uluru, but is his dream of making it big as illusory as his planned vanishing act?
Dave Welsman juggles romantic disappointment, recurring health problems and a career as a professional magician catering to suburban kids and corporate types. Deciding to chart a new path, he hatches a plan to top a 1983 world-record-holding magic trick by David Copperfield: he will make Uluru disappear. While turning this idea into a reality, however, Welsman learns some sobering truths about Indigenous Australians and the Anangu people for whom the monolith is sacred – as well as about himself.
Filming around the cessation of the Uluru climb, MIFF Accelerator Lab alumna A.M. Broinowski employs similar tactics to her previous film Aim High in Creation! (MIFF Premiere Fund 2013) in using an over-the-top premise to launch an incisive exploration; here, she offers insights into fragile masculinity, the conflict between commodification and cultural respect, and the unfinished business of reconciliation. Supported by the MIFF Premiere Fund, and produced by Rachel Clements (Finke: There and Back, MIFF 2018) and Trisha Morton-Thomas (The Song Keepers, MIFF Premiere Fund 2017), this riveting documentary follows Welsman’s bumpy journey as he seeks permission from Anangu elders and organises logistics while grappling with impostor complex and the tension of being a non-Aboriginal person on traditional land. With comedy and candour, Uluru & the Magician captures one man’s single-minded devotion to his craft being tempered by the magic at the heart of Australia.
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