DER Documentary

The Redfern Story

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by Darlene Johnson
color, 60 min, 2014
in English

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The Redfern Story focuses on the events that led to the setting up of The National Black Theatre in Redfern in 1972 by a small group of untrained political activists, writers, dancers, and actors with Bob Maza at the helm. Spanning only 5 years, it was a way that Aboriginal people felt they could get their voices heard effectively.

In 1970, Maza and fellow activists travelled to America to learn from the black American experience, bringing back and implementing what they had learned. On his return to Australia Maza moved his family from Melbourne to Sydney and the Black Theatre was established at the Maza residence at 181 Regent St Redfern. It later moved to a warehouse in Cope Street.

The film contains interviews with people who worked with Bob Maza, and who were involved in the Black Theatre and were instrumental in shaping and bringing about significant social change. They include academics Marcia Langton and Gary Foley, brothers Gerry and Lester Bostock, actors Alileen Louise Corpus, Bindi Williams, Bronwyn Penrith, Lillian Crombie and the talented daughters of Bob Maza, Rachael and Lisa. Actors Bryan Brown and Max Cullen are also interviewed about playing white roles at the Black Theatre.

These interviews are intercut with historical footage of the time, documenting the life and culture of Redfern. The film also shows the creation of the Aboriginal Medical Service and the Aboriginal Legal Service, which were the first of their kind and were set up to address the neglect of the struggling community, and the establishment of the Tent Embassy in Canberra.

The National Black Theatre's genesis was in street theatre performances at the first land rights marches, developing into the first formal production, Basically Black at Nimrod Theatre in 1972. This was followed by Robert Merritt's The Cakeman and then later, Gerry Bostock's Here Comes The Nigger in 1975.

The film pays tribute to the artists of the Black Theatre movement who are no longer with us, such as Justine Saunders and Zac Martin, and actor, director and drama teacher, Brian Syron.

The Redfern Story is about a significant and rich part of modern Aboriginal history which until now has been virtually undocumented.

Film Festivals, Screenings, Awards
Winner, Best Documentary - Social & Political Issues, ATOM Awards, 2015
Durban International Film Festival, Durban, South Africa, 2016
Skabmagovat Film Festival, Finland, 2016
The People's Film Festival, Harlem, NY, 2016
Hawaiian International Film Festival, 2015
Margaret Mead Documentary Film Festival, New York, 2015
Sydney International Film Festival, 2014

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Study Guide

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