Message Sticks – Here I Am

A friend and I went to the opening of this year’s “Message Sticks” Film Festival, which features the works of Indigenous film-makers at the Sydney Opera House.

This year’s opening night film – “Here I am” directed by Beck Cole – managed to combine what appeared to be fairly grim circumstances for the main character – Karen – with some room for future optimism for her personal circumstance .

Shai Pittman as Karen is just wonderful as the young woman who comes out of prison and moves into a half-way house with a group of other Indigenous woman. The night before, however, she has a one-night stand with a bloke she met at the pub, revealing that she hasn’t always made the best choices in her life. Soon it’s pretty clear, however, that she’s keen to get her life back on tracks and, in particular, to regain custody of her daughter who remains with her grandmother, played beautifully by Marcia Langton.

It’s this central relationship of mother, daughter and grand-daughter that I found particularly touching and which on occasion made my eyes well up slightly. Afterwards, a friend told me she’d seen a couple of women in the toilets crying afterwards because they were so moved by the film.

The film is set in Adelaide and surrounds, and for that reason I found myself looking at the scenery to see if there places I recognised. The photography is really good. The film has a GREAT soundtrack, and is about the right length.

I’m not sure how well the film will do at the cinema – Australian film often struggle at the box office – but I can imagine it will do well when it’s shown on television.

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