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Cinematic campfires. Australian feature film and reconciliation

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Marsh, P (2012) Cinematic campfires. Australian feature film and reconciliation. PhD thesis, University of Tasmania.

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Abstract

In a speech at the Sydney Film Festival in 2005, actor Tom E. Lewis likened the Australian
film industry to a campfire (see Lawson, “Along” 214). His metaphor creates a picture of
the cinema as a site where Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal people gather to relax, tell and
listen to stories, as they would around a campfire. This image of an inclusive cinema is
especially pertinent given developments in the Australian feature film industry between
2000-2010. During this time an unprecedented number of feature films that focus on settler indigenous
relationships were released, drawing attention to a wide range of issues
associated with co-existence. Moreover, many deploy new and sometimes challenging
representational strategies to depict Aborigines, settlers, and settler-indigenous relations.
The central concerns of this thesis are these films and their extra-textual contexts. Although
they are a varied collection, when considered together they constitute a new movement in
Australian cinema: Reconciliation Cinema.
In all its guises, Reconciliation Cinema is provocative. Reconciliation is not only
the key conceptual, political, personal, social, and cultural context informing these films, it
is also the subject of their critiques, celebrations and contestations. It is, however, an
ongoing and problematic process in a perpetual state of redefinition. In Australia,
reconciliation primarily involves recognising past wrongs, addressing the inequities that
have resulted from the colonisation and dispossession of Aboriginal people, and ultimately
improving relationships between settler and indigenous peoples. Reconciliation Cinema
contributes new ideas to this process: through nuanced, fictional representations of
Aborigines, settlers and settler-indigenous relations; and through the example of
collaborative filmmaking. This thesis demonstrates the centrality of Reconciliation Cinema
in developing self and national understandings of reconciliation.
I contend that during 2000-2010 a cinematic metanarrative of reconciliation—a
conglomeration of drama, intrigue, surprise, trauma, sorrow and celebration—was firmly
established in Australian cinema. This thesis comprises close readings of feature films,
which reveals the ways that reconciliatory notions become manifest in cinema. In addition,
it examines and analyses the broader contexts in which these films are situated. I identify
three sites of intersubjectivity—on-screen, off-screen and reception (between spectator and screen)—where dated modes of cross-cultural interaction are re-negotiated, and new
models of behaviour are determined.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Keywords: Australian film, reconciliation, cross-culturalism, reconciliation cinema
Copyright Information:

Copyright 2012 the author

Date Deposited: 16 Jan 2013 03:52
Last Modified: 15 Sep 2017 00:59
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