DER Documentary

Remembering Yayayi

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by Pip Deveson, Ian Dunlop, Fred Myers
color, 57 min, 2014
in English and Pintupi
with English subtitles


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Remembering Yayayi reflects on a pivotal moment in the history of Pintupi people through a body of archival film.

In 1974, filmmaker Ian Dunlop visited Yayayi, a remote community in Central Australia. The Pintupi people had recently moved there to get away from the difficulties of living at the larger permanent government settlement of Papunya. Dunlop had come to Yayayi to follow up on the lives of people he had photographed ten years earlier as they were leaving their Western Desert homeland for the first time. He never made a film with the material he shot there and Yayayi has long since been abandoned.

In 2006 anthropologist Fred Myers — who appears in the Yayayi footage as a young PhD student — took the footage to show it to Pintupi now living on their own land at Kintore and Kiwirrkura. At Kintore, Myers linked up with Marlene Nampitjinpa, a woman who also appears throughout the footage — as a lively young girl. She was delighted to see scenes of her family as they had been living some thirty years earlier.

In this film, Marlene Nampitjinpa and Ian Dunlop share their memories of Yayayi with Fred Myers. They look back at the important period of transition that the archival footage represents as Pintupi people struggled to take control of their destiny.

Remembering Yayayi draws attention to the value that archival material has for contemporary Indigenous people. We see the not so distant past of Pintupi Aboriginal people as it is interpreted in the present by Marlene — with a poignant mixture of pleasure and sadness. Here, contradictory feelings sit alongside each other: nostalgia with feelings of loss; an admiration for the strength of the old people with an acknowledgement of incipient problems that people continue to face.

Included on the DVD:
Marlene's Story (color, 32 min, 2014)
Charismatic Pintupi elder and leader, Marlene Nampitjinpa Spencer, was born in the Australian Western Desert, among people still living a hunting and gathering life. Here she tells her full life story, including the incredible journey she made at the age of three when she and her mother walked some 500 kilometres to the government settlement of Papunya. She tells how, against all odds, the Pintupi eventually established settlements back on their own land.

Film Festivals, Screenings, Awards
Festival International Jean Rouch, Paris, France, 2015
RAI International Festival of Ethnographic Film, Bristol, UK, 2015
Nordic Anthropological Film Association Film Festival, Warsaw, Poland, 2015
Marburg International Ethnografic Film Festival, Marburg, Germany, 2015
Margaret Mead Film Festival, New York, USA, 2014

Related Resources
Fred Myers Site
Film Site

Related Films
Fantome Island
Taking Pictures
Dead Birds Re-encountered

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