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The objectives of the Indigenous Branch are to review and develop policies, guidelines and strategies to provide for Indigenous Australian access to AFC funding programs so as to further develop film production and related skills among Indigenous Australian people; facilitate effective participation by Indigenous Australian people in all areas of Australian and international film industries; promote the quality and diversity of Indigenous films to maintain or improve competitive standards; and assist in the development of wider audiences for films which are written, directed or produced by Indigenous people.

Principal Programs and Activities

Hidden Pictures Touring Film Exhibition

The 1990s is the Australian Federal Parliament's decade of Reconciliation. 1995 is the United Nations International Year of Tolerance, the beginning of the Decade of Indigenous People and the International Year of the Centenary of Cinema. Consequently, the Indigenous Branch embarked on an Indigenous Touring Film Festival to assist people from diverse cultural backgrounds to recognise the uniqueness of the Indigenous experience and culture of Australia and educate people in the issue of representation.

The Dreaming is a 13x5 minute animation series created by Aboriginal animators featuring stories from the Aboriginal Dreamtime. The series screened in 1995 on the ABC.

The program consists of 14 feature films, one documentary and a short ethnographic film that Eddie Mabo used as part of his submission to the High Court of Australia to destroy the colonial legal fiction, Terra Nullius. The films are screened along with Cinesound Newsreels of Aboriginal people from each decade and archival advertisments in precisely the manner in which these films were originally presented to audiences in Australia.

The travelling film event consists of a selection of motion pictures and newsreels from 1898 to the 1990s portraying Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. It was officially launched by the Minister for Immigration and Ethnic Affairs in Darwin on 12 June 1995. The touring schedule includes capital cities, and as at June 30 1995 the Hidden Pictures Exhibition had visited the following regional centres: Murray Bridge, Roebourne, Karratha and the Barunga Festival.

Indigenous Narrative Drama Initiative

The Indigenous Drama Initiative was conceived by the Indigenous Branch and is a collaborative effort involving all the state film agencies, Film Australia, SBS Independent and the FFC. It is designed primarily to allow Indigenous people to re-present images of their society through the production of dramas that are written by Indigenous people.

The aims of the initiative are to :

After advertising the Initiative nationally, a total of 47 applications were received and assessed by an AFC panel comprised of Wal Saunders, Claire Dobbin, Ned Lander and Phillip Morriessy. This number was shortlisted further to nine by Film Victoria, Screen West, South Australian Film Corporation, Film Queensland, New South Wales Film and Television Office, SBS Independent and with the advice of the four AFC assessors. Eight of these projects were then further developed in a Visual Storytelling Workshop held in Melbourne in early June 1995. The ninth project was developed at a Visual Storytelling Workshop conducted at the Ernabella community in South Australia.

Visual Storytelling Workshop

A six-day intensive workshop for the Initiative writers and directors was created with the primary objective being to focus on the participants' projects and to address both the development of the script and the visual ideas needed to make the successful transition from page to screen. The workshop provided resources and opportunities for the participants to realise their ideas as creatively and imaginatively as possible with input and advice from Australia's leading directors, writers, cinematographers, sound and casting experts.

A separate workshop was undertaken for the project from Ernabella community because it was important to allow the story to be developed totally from the community's perspective.

The nine projects will go through a final selection process to determine the final six for production to be broadcast on SBS television in 1996.

Interagency Employment Strategy Coordinator

In 1993 the four federal film agencies embarked on a national Indigenous employment strategy for the film industry. An Interagency Employment Strategy Coordinator was appointed on 27 February 1995 and is located in the Indigenous Branch of the AFC Sydney office.

The two major developments in the Strategy since the appointment have been:

Whilst continuing to increase numbers of Indigenous people accessing training and employment opportunities, the next major goal of the Strategy is to develop statewide Indigenous industry advisory committees which will specifically focus on the same objective but at regional levels.

Interaction With Other Agencies

The Indigenous Branch continually liaises with organisations involved in program delivery for Indigenous film, video and multimedia practitioners. Apart from the interaction involved with the creation of specific programs like the Indigenous Drama Initiative and the Hidden Pictures Indigenous Touring Film Festival, the Branch regularly consults independent Indigenous filmmakers and community owned and based production houses like the Central Australian Aboriginal Media Association [CAAMA], the Townsville Aboriginal and Islander Media Association [TAIMA], the National Indigenous Media Association of Australia [NIMAA], the Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara Media Association [PY Media], and the West Australian Aboriginal Media Association [WAAMA].

The Branch also had regular contact with the following: independent industry production houses Southern Star Productions, Grundy Productions; the Australian Film Institute; the television producers of Blue Heelers, Hallifax FP and Fire 2 to create better employment opportunities for Indigenous filmmakers. Moreover, the Branch has regular interaction with many key industry associations such as Screen Producers Association of Australia [SPAA], Australian Screen Directors Association [ASDA], as well as the Australian Documentary Conference and the Australasian Interactive Multimedia Industry Association [AIMIA].


Consultants engaged during 1995 were Janina Harding and Jackie Katona.


As at 30 June 1995, Indigenous Branch employed two full-time staff.


The Branch attracted funds to curate and tour the Hidden Pictures Indigenous Touring Film Festival. These funds are to be expended during the 1995 calendar year. Total branch expenditure for 1994-95 was $96,980.

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