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Ronin Films

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Penny McDonald

Penelope McDonald, principal of Chili Films, an independent Australian production company, is an accomplished producer and director with a number of internationally acclaimed productions to her credit. In mid-2004 she took up a position as the inaugural Director of the newly established NT Film Television & New Media Office.

Chili Films produced the highly acclaimed feature documentary My Mother India for SBS Television. It has been a box office hit, screening for more than six months in Sydney. Much Ado About Something, with director Mike Rubbo, has screened on ABC, BBC and PBS, as well as touring theatrically in Australia.
Chili Films produced 12 state-of-the-millennium audio-visual installations that have been on permanent display in the Gallery of First Australians at the new National Museum of Australia since 2001.

Penelope McDonald and Chili Films’ body of work explores culture and relationships between cultures, particularly between indigenous and other cultures, with the award- winning documentaries Too Many Captain Cooks, Black Sheep and Photographic Memory; and dramas My Mother My Son, My Bed Your Bed and Payback.

One of Penelope’s early films, Night Cries, directed by Australian artist Tracey Moffat, was a finalist in Cannes in 1990 and has been one of Australia’s most successful short films in the last decade.

In addition to her work with Chili Films, Penelope worked for many years with Indigenous Australians in the Northern Territory. She worked in the education sector, with both children and adults, and has also been employed on contract by peak government film organisations including the Australian Film Television and Radio School, the New South Wales Film and Television Office and Film Australia. She was a founding member and past president of Women in Film and Television, and is a member of the Australian Film Institute.

Filmography

MY MOTHER INDIA »

It is no wonder that Safina Uberoi made a film about her family: She has an Indian father who collects kitch calendars, an Australian mother who hangs her knickers out to dry in front of the horrified Indian neighbours, a grandfather who was a self-styled Guru and a fiercely man-hating grandmother...

MY MOTHER MY SON »

Mona and her adult daughter Kymmy set out from their country home to get Kymmy's young son from foster care in the city. Their objective is not an easy one...

TOO MANY CAPTAIN COOKS »

For both Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal Australians, Captain James Cook is a figure of great historical significance. Non-Aboriginal histories of Australia generally regard Captain Cook as the person who discovered Australia, although historical records show that he was not the first European to step onto Australian shores...

NIGHT CRIES »

DIGITALLY REMASTERED! In basic narrative terms, NIGHT CRIES is a response to Charles Chauvel’s JEDDA (1955), about the fate of an Aboriginal baby adopted by a white mother in a remote outback station...

FOUNDATION, The (NIDF series 5) »

Imagine you are Black in the 1960s. You've come from the bush to find work in Sydney. You don't know anyone and you've got nowhere to stay...

BUCKSKIN »

Jack Buckskin is the teacher of an endangered language. From the northern Adelaide suburb of Salisbury, Jack’s mission is to teach the Kaurna language, the language of his ancestors, to as many people as he can in his lifetime...

MUCH ADO ABOUT SOMETHING »

This lively odyssey into the land of Shakespeare introduces us to a delightful gallery of eccentric scholars who dispute the authorship of the plays...