The Darkside and Frank Yamma

I went to one of (maybe the first public screening) of the new film by Warwick Thornton, previously known for such brilliant works as Samson and Delilah (director) and The Sapphires (director of photography).

In contrast to the clear, strong narrative of those two films, you need to work out your own “narrative” for The Darkside, as the film is based on a series of social history interviews with people about “ghost stories”.

But rather than feature the original interviews, well-known actors (both Indigenous and non-Indigenous) are brought in to relay the stories in a fairly stylised manner.

Although there were a few stories which I didn’t understand (as the narrative wasn’t that clear), a few which I thought would have been better simply as audio (it’s the radio guy in me thinking the story didn’t need pictures), there were a few stories which really resonated with me. There’s a story, for example, of a “sighting” of the spirit of a young child near Coober Pedy which is beautifully illustrated as the artist Ben Quilty paints the scene. There’s also a lovely story presented by Deborah Mailman (featuring Marcia Langton in the background) which is fantastic, simply because it’s Deborah. Aaron Pederson brings great humor and authenticity to his story.

Frank Yamma
Frank Yamma

The final scene, where a young woman describes the slow painful death of an infant (and where she felt guided and supported by her granny), was the one where the film made sense for me. There’s a moment in earlier The Darkside, where one of the actors explains he believes that when you die, your body goes into the ground, your soul goes to your creator, and your spirit remains living amongst us.

The film will have a cinematic release at some point soon (I understand) and will also be a series of half-hour programs which will run on ABC-TV next year.

After the movie, we popped downstairs to the Corroboree Festival bar, enjoyed a chat, a drink, and the wonderful tunes of Frank Yamma.

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