Click here to see trailer Blackbirding
The ‘happening-now -cyclone’, Marcia, has let me know that my next documentary will definitely not be about cyclone recovery. I can let go of that ‘natural disaster recovery theme.’ After Yasi – Finding the Smile Within is there for anyone that wants to read it and walk in the shoes of Cassowary Coastal locals. I have been on that pathway, with friends, family and community.
I venture out to a meeting with independent documentary makers in Brisbane, where guests from the Asia /Pacific, will be present. It’s time to reignite my film making journey once more. This is the first time I will meet local filmmakers.
After a year of hibernating, writing a memoirs and several picture book drafts, taking photographs of ripples, cricket, tree planting, a friend’s exhibition and nature walks and mainly meeting writers for children and youth – it’s time to discover and connect with more of the creative and cultural communities around me.
Only a few people have turned up due to cyclone Marcia looming and the rain. Yet it is not raining and I am glad we checked and saw it would be ‘flood free’ to attend. My daughter and I speak with Maurice and Gemma at the bar of the BEMAC. We are under the Storybridge, what an apt place to be.
Gemma, one of the presenters, is open, warm and friendly. She wears a stylish scarf and her hair is long and thick. Maurice is a gentle man wearing a patterned shirt in subtle ochres. Gemma carries herself as I would expect a documentary maker would, open and interested in others. They are both happy to let me and my daughter converse with them. Soon we are talking about family history a little. She is a citizen of the world, home is wherever she is. She tells us a story about filming with an umbrella and everyone else standing out in heavy rain around her in Vanuatu. The lightning strikes her.
What follows is a memorable conversation about home, identity, land and far beyond the cliche of reality tv ‘my journey has been.’ In the presentation session we learn more about a hidden history with Gemma of Blackbirding. Unspoken stories of South Sea Islander secrets are spoken. Gemma Tamock is the Artistic Director of Amazon Productions. She is a filmmaker and performer and previously wrote/produced/directed a documentary called Whitewash.
We learn more about Chartchai ‘Nat’ Ketnust, a writer/director/producer and Tim Schultz, a post production producer, who both live and work in Bangkok. We are introduced to a series they are working on about Muay Thai.
The questions and feedback from the audience are lively and we are intrigued by Gemma not placing re-enactments in costume and her philosophy that this will distance the audience from the reality of those stories. These are not finished films though by either presenter, but there promise is strong. We are all going to go home and find out more about Muay Thai. We will be thinking about multiple voices and leaving our watchers with questions, rather than answers.
They invite suggestions from us, seek out our responses to their documentary babes in the film woods. The photography in Muay Thai is poetic, brutal and the philosophy behind what has become a sport incredible. Warrior, Survivor, Freedom. The themes are still spinning over in my head.
Tim (based in Thailand) who is working with Nat and Daniel (based in Brisbane), of Krabi studios also speak.
Another film, with amazing underwater photography of sea people in Indonesia is screened. We are transported far beyond where we sit and marvel at a man who walks on coral as if it is carpet.
The next morning, with Gemma’s advice in the search for my next documentary theme firmly lodged in my head – ‘Be open’ I write this on my facebook wall.
“Met some very interesting visiting film makers last night at BEMAC, Brisbane Documentary Makers meeting. Learnt about some martial arts in Thailand and some shocking things about Blackbirding history – now to find what story might call me… hidden history, a place, a problem, a challenge with an unknown answer?”
(c) June Perkins