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WALBIRI FIRE CEREMONY, A - Ngatjakula [from the AIATSIS Collection]

Year: 1977

Classification: Exempt - Ronin Recommends: G

Runtime: 19 min

Produced In: Australia

Directed By: Roger Sandall

Produced By: Kim McKenzie

Language: English

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Originally filmed as an archival record of a Warlpiri (Walbiri) ceremony in 1967 by Roger Sandall, the film footage was re-worked 10 years later by anthropologist Nicolas Peterson and filmmaker, Kim McKenzie, to make this short version for public viewing.

Involving large numbers of both men and women, Ngatjakula is one of the most spectacular ceremonies of central Australia, employing fire, and several days of singing and dance, to resolve conflicts and re-affirm social order among the Warlpiri (Walbiri) people.

One of Sandall's many films about ceremonial life, including several of Warlpiri rituals, the film was part of the program of the Australian Institute of Aboriginal Studies to record traditional aspects of Aboriginal life and culture. McKenzie's collaboration with Peterson (who had been present at the time of the original filming) to edit this public version, is a meticulous representation of the fire ceremony, much of which took place at night.


Director and photographer Roger Sandall
Producer and editor Kim McKenzie
Sound Laurie Fitzgerald
Anthropologist and narrator Nicolas Peterson

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