Posted by Jenn Winterbine
12. Apr, 2011
Murundak: Songs of Freedom is a documentary about The Black Arm Band. From the dusty heartland of Australia’s outback to the spacious theatre halls of London, it follows the collective journey of these indigenous musicians, their personal struggles and determination to preserve their culture.
Formed in 2006, the group has included Archie Roach, Ruby Hunter, Dan Sultan, Gapanbulu Yunupingu, Kutcha Edwards, Emma Donovan, Bart Willoughby, Dave Arden and many more. Through song, these artists explore themes that are deeply significant to Australia’s indigenous community.
Archie Roach’s intimate performance of Took The Children Away is a powerful account of the stolen generations. From Little Things Big Things Grow is an inspiring tribute to The Gurindji Strike of 1966 and the land rights movement that followed. The late Ruby Hunter’s Down City Streets is a haunting tale of homelessness. Much like the anti-apartheid songs of South Africa, these songs have strengthened the resolve of indigenous Australia and their supporters.
Murundak, meaning “alive” in Woirurrung language, is a fitting title for this documentary, as it celebrates the resolute spirit of Aboriginal communities in often hostile environments. Since colonisation, indigenous communities have faced challenges including the loss of native language and forced removal of children. Alongside these challenges have been struggles for self-determination and land rights.
The documentary includes archival film of political demonstrations, footage that reveals the deep passion that lies at the heart of Aboriginal resistance. Murundak: Songs of Freedom was filmed against a backdrop of political change – the 2007 election of Kevin Rudd’s Labor Government. Some artists share their hopes that the newly elected Labor government may improve national indigenous policy. Others, such as Emma Donovan, express their disappointment at the Labor Government’s continuation of the Northern Territory Intervention – a policy that was slammed by the United Nations in 2009 as “discriminatory” for its welfare quarantining and removal of entry permits. As the Intervention continues into 2011, many themes explored by The Black Arm Band in their 2006 performances remain as relevant as ever.
Murundak: Songs of Freedom is a compelling, emotional experience that prompts reflection on indigenous policies both past and present. It unearths the hidden, often forgotten world of Aboriginal protest music, and offers audiences a deeper understanding of the heroic defiance of indigenous Australia and a new appreciation for the medium of protest music.
Murundak: Songs of Freedom screens from Thursday 14th April at Nova Cinema, Carlton. For session times visit www.cinemanova.com.au
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