Friday, August 14, 2009


The poet, Muriel Rukeyser, once said: “the world is made of stories, not atoms”. You don’t have to be a poet to understand this. Have a look around.

Stories are a force of nature - the source and outcome of every birth, death, dream and transformation. They are Nature’s way of becoming conscious of itself. Indeed, our humanity and inhumanity is grounded in them, tangled in the mystery of “how come?”, and the suspense of “what now?” When one works with story, especially in the alchemical realm of cinema – that modern-day campfire that calls us to re-imagine humanity’s strengths and weaknesses - it makes us more conscious of ourselves... and of each other.

The films you are about to experience are a testament to a creative and collaborative exploration made by a diverse group of individuals into the nature and meaning of their tribal origins.

Some of them have never made a film before. But for all of them, the challenge was to find a way – their own way – of presenting their tribal identity – of making what they are vivid and present to others.

Each film in its own way expresses an essence – a source that identifies the filmmaker and the filmmaker’s idea of his or her tribal connections. They are like cinematic calling cards that show rather than tell what a person is, so what you will see and hear is not so much WHO these filmmakers are, but WHAT they are. In their origins they belong to tribes, to those others that have come before – the Ancestors, if you like – as well as all those that will come afterwards. The acknowledgement of this essential continuity is the realisation that to be is to be part of a tribe. No man is an island. And no woman either.

The way in which each film has been made, and ultimately its style - is just as significant as what it actually says. If a film seems like a work-in-progress, look again – it’s not because it is unfinished, but because the filmmaker’s life is itself a work-in-progress.

Each of us has his or her origins - the places from whence we have sprung – geographically, culturally, politically and spiritually. As storytellers we are the carriers of the wisdom and the follies of our tribes. They speak through us, and live by virtue of our re-membering them. And by their grace and the stories they have told us, our lives are made that much richer and more meaningful.

Finally, let me say how much I appreciate those who participated in the first Canberra Tribal Workshop, including Adrian – the person that made it all happen, who attended every session with just as much passion as any of the participants.

Thank you all for your trust, your common sense, your generosity, honesty and talent. It was, for me – as it always is – an extremely moving experience, seeing the courage, good humour, tolerance and resiliency with which each one of you navigated your own fears and each other’s differences

And thank you also for revealing something quite profound – the fact that what we have in common is so much more powerful and than what separates us.

When we work from our origins – when we have the courage and care of showing one another the sources of our BEING - we begin to recognise and appreciate how the source for each one of us is the same source for all of us – an insight we overlook at our collective peril. Thank you.

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