Stills from the acclaimed feature ‘SPEAR’ directed by Bangarra Dance Theatre’s artistic director and choreographer Stephen Page and produced by John Harvey
Stills from the acclaimed feature ‘SPEAR’ directed by Bangarra Dance Theatre’s artistic director and choreographer Stephen Page and produced by John Harvey

Spear: Acclaimed indigenous films on Byron’s big screen

THE Byron Bay Theatre is set to host some of the most inspirational and acclaimed indigenous films for the 9th Arakwal NAIDOC Week Screening.

The Arakwal Corporation, Flickerfest and iQ worked together to present two aboriginal short films selected from this year's Flickerfest finalists, local short 'Nan and a whole lot of trouble' and 'Under skin in blood' as well as acclaimed feature Spear.

Spear is Australia's first contemporary Indigenous dance film directed by Bangarra Dance Theatre's artistic director and choreographer Stephen Page and produced by John Harvey.

John Harvey will be joining Flickerfest director Bronwyn Kidd for a Q&A with audiences after the show.

The 84 minute film follows the story of a young aboriginal man named Djali (Hunter Page-Lochard) who is trying to reconcile ancient tradition with the modern, urban world, using gesture and dance with minimal dialogue.

Mr Harvey said it was a challenge transforming what had originally been a dance work into a feature film.

"The original dance theatre work was 38 minutes long," he said.

"It was really a process of…. thinking about the original story of spear and how that might expand to hold and sustain a feature film.

"The whole thing was a unique process for everyone involved."

Mr Harvey said the dancers, who were used to performing on stage at a distance from the audience, did an amazing job adapting to screen where the camera is up close and personal, and still remaining truthful and grounded.

"The other challenge for us was that Stephen (the director) when he was making this film, wanted to be true to the dance form," he said.

"He wanted to keep that spirit and energy of Bangarra and bring that to the screen.

"The feeling that you get is almost like a meditative place where you kind of surrender your spirit and energy and open your energy to not just seeing the story but feeling the story

"I think it's very different to a normal film where people have an expectation that there's a three act structure and there's going to be key plot points that stand out for me that I will follow."

Mr Harvey said the team worked hard to steer clear of Indigenous stereotypes and Australian 'postcard' locations in an effort to portray the real energy and spirit of indigenous Australian culture.

"He (the director) has this group of really dynamic, aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander dancers from all over the country, and they all have varying looks," he said.

"I think there's a real energy and spirit of indigenous culture that people get from this film," he said.

"Often an audience will come out and they will have felt things they haven't felt before.

At the Byron Community Centre on Tuesday, July 5, from 6.30pm. $12.


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