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EMILY IN JAPAN - The Making of An Exhibition

Year: 2009

Classification: PG

Runtime: 82 min

Produced In: Australia

Directed By: Andrew Pike

Produced By: Harriet Pike

Language: English

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Behind the scenes of the blockbuster exhibition of paintings by the Indigenous artist Emily Kame Kngwarreye which toured Japan attracting record crowds.

This DVD contains the full, unabridged version of the film, with approx 25 minutes of outstanding footage not shown in the shortened TV version. The DVD also includes a selection of fascinating Extras including a full interview with the curator of the Emily Exhibition, Margo Neale, recorded on "Sorry Day", 13 February 2008.

NOTE: A bi-lingual book/catalogue for the Exhibition in Japan is also available from Ronin Films. This substantial high quality book, full of superb reproductions of Emily's work on glossy art paper, and introductory essays in both English and Japanese, is available for purchase from Ronin. Follow this link for more information:


Emily Kame Kngwarreye was an Aboriginal woman from Utopia in central Australia who began to paint on canvas when she was about 78 years old. In the 8 years before her death in 1996, she produced a staggering output of over 3,000 canvasses, some of which are now valued more highly (in monetary terms) than the work of most other female Australian artists.

The exhibition of Emily Kame Kngwarreye's paintings which toured to Osaka and Tokyo in 2008 is arguably the biggest, most comprehensive single artist exhibition to travel internationally from Australia.

EMILY IN JAPAN is the story of the making of this landmark exhibition, with all of the complex cross-cultural transactions that were involved โ€“ from the red desert of central Australia where Emily lived, to the National Museum of Australia in Canberra, where the exhibition was curated, and to the high end of the art world in Japan.

The driving force behind the exhibition is Margo Neale, an Indigenous art curator and historian, who had mounted an earlier, smaller exhibition of Emily's work for the Queensland Art Gallery in 1998. This earlier exhibition had attracted the attention of a Japanese scholar and art critic, Professor Akira Tatehata, and it became his personal mission to bring such an exhibition in Japan. The working relationship and friendship between Margo Neale and Professor Tatehata, and their shared passion for Emily's art, is at the core of the film.

The exhibition in Osaka and Tokyo was a major media event and attracted record-breaking crowds. The success of the exhibition signifies the achievement of one of Emily's dreams that Margo undertook to realise: that her work, her stories, be seen by people around the world. It gives to this elderly woman from Utopia her rightful place as one of the world's leading modernist artists and as an eminent Australian.



"I write to say how much I enjoyed your wonderful DVD on Emile Kngwarreye. ... It was in short a triumph โ€“ at once moving emotionally, deeply spiritual and visually extraordinary. While the interviews were absorbing in themselves, the works were presented with both affection and insight.

There is no doubt that the DVD would be an invaluable tool in Australian (and Japanese) schools โ€“ in primary as an introduction to Aboriginality; in high school as a means of generating broad-ranging social, political and artistic discussion.

Congratulations on a singular contribution to Australian culture."

- Dr David Headon, History Adviser, Centenary of Canberra, ACT Chief Minister's Department.

Produced with assistance from the National Museum of Australia and the Australia-Japan Foundation.

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