Putuparri and the Rainmakers
Nicole Ma – AUSTRALIA 2016 – 97 MIN
Saturday, November 5
4PM – St. Andrew’s Church – $10/donation
Host Julie Falck will lead a post-film Q&A
The film spans twenty years in Putuparri’s life in Western Australia as he navigates between his Western upbringing and his traditional culture. His grandfather, ‘Spider’, grew up in the desert and taught Putuparri bush knowledge and the dreamtime myths. But he struggles with being singled out to care for his law and culture; the expectations of passing on 40,000 years of cultural tradition are a heavy burden. Set against the backdrop of the long fight to reclaim their traditional lands, the film is a story of love, hope and the survival of Aboriginal law and culture against all odds.
In 1997, Putuparri produced an artwork in the Pirnirni desert which became the basis for a successful Native Title claim in 2007. “The painting is like a map of all people that come from the desert … to show the government this is our country not yours,” he said. Director Nicole Ma described this land claim as a “pivotal turning point” in her film.
Tom ‘Putuparri’ Lawford’s people have lived in the desert of Western Australia for over forty thousand years. They lived a nomadic life knowing they could always retreat to their sacred waterholes when times were hard. Kurtal is one of the most important of these waterholes in the heart of the Great Sandy Desert. It is the site where underground artisan water known as ‘jila’ or ‘living water’ comes to the surface and it is where the spirits of Putuparri’s people return to when they die.
When Europeans arrived, their cattle and horses fouled the water holes and forced Aboriginal people off their land. Many of them worked on cattle stations where they retained a physical link to their Country. But in the late 1960s when the courts introduced equal pay, many Aboriginal people were forced off the stations into towns like Fitzroy Crossing.
The film spans twenty transformative years in Putuparri’s life as he navigates the deep chasm between his Western upbringing and his traditional culture. He and Spider go on a series of epic journeys to their family’s Country. Each trip marks a different stage in his passage from rebellious young man to inspirational leader.
Set against the backdrop of the long fight to reclaim their traditional lands, Putuparri And The Rainmakers is a story of love, hope and the survival of Aboriginal law and culture against all odds.
Director / Producer Nicole Ma
Nicole Ma is an award winning director/producer of new media for Yiwarra Kuju: Canning Stock Route Project and the inaugural exhibitions for the National Museum of Australia; documentaries Dances of Ecstasy, Kurtal Snake Spirit and Be Happy Be Strong. Nicole began her filmmaking career in New York producing music videos for Whitney Houston, Sonic Youth and long form concert films for Annie Lennox, Michael Bolton and Newport Jazz Festival. Her New York based independent film company produced feature films Combination Platter (Sundance screenwriting award) and My Father is Coming. She worked as location manager on Malcom X (Spike Lee) and production manager on Haitian Corner (Raoul Peck). Putuparri and the Rainmakers is her first feature length documentary.
Host: Julie Falck
Julie Falck is an Australian doctoral student at the Osgoode Hall Law School at York University. Falck is doing comparative research on Australian and Canadian indigenous land rights issues.