Rachel Perkins Songlines Film Project Gets New Funding Support
A new indigenous film project from Australian filmmaker Rachel Perkins is set to capture traditional stories of the elder Arrernte women thanks to support from the Australian Film Television and Radio School (AFTRS).
Perkins – who is widely known for the films Bran Nue Dae, Radiance, and One Night the Moon – has received a $50,000 fellowship from AFTRS to support the project moving forward.
The Indigenous Creative Fellowship is a revived initiative from AFTRS, having only been awarded once before in 2006 to acclaimed stage and screen actor Wayne Blair.
AFTRS says the fellowship aims to develop “innovative screen based works from emerging or experienced practitioners, or organisations with a strong and adventurous project”, and has indicated it will be offered annually, with Perkins being called the “inaugural recipient” of this latest version of the fellowship.
The $50,000 grant is supplemented with support from AFTRS, including access to the school’s resources, production facilities and teaching staff. In a statement about the Creative Fellowships (of which three were awarded), AFTRS CEO Sandra Levy says the broad support offered sets these grants apart from other options.
“What is truly special about the AFTRS Creative Fellowship is that practitioners are supported with a substantial grant to pursue unique and innovative work in a context where grants of this nature are not on offer from other organisations,” she says.
Perkins is focusing her film on the elder women of Arrernte; the traditional custodians of the land around Alice Springs, which is also where she is from.
The stories of these women are, also known as “songlines”, have been passed onto each generation through song, but are at risk of fading away without projects like Perkins’s to record and support them.
With an impressive body of work, and an award-winning production company (Blackfella Films) to her name, Perkins is a creative that’s passionate about telling the stories of indigenous Australians and engaging everyone who now identifies as Australian.
Her views are highlighted in a speech she made for the Recognise movement in 2014, where she says “indigenous Australians have something extraordinary to offer” the country:
“The deep history and rich cultural heritage of this nation, which is your heritage too, as Australians.”
It’s part of this history and cultural heritage that her latest film project strives to document and share with the world.