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FAMILIAR PLACES [from the AIATSIS Collection]

Year: 1980

Classification: Exempt - Ronin Recommends: PG

Runtime: 50 min

Produced In: Australia

Directed By: David MacDougall

Produced By: David MacDougall

Language: English subtitles and English narration

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Narrated by the linguist and anthropologist Peter Sutton, this documentary observes his work with a family in far north Queensland, outside Aurukun, to map their hereditary "clan country". The aim of the older members of the family is partly to protect their land and prove their attachment to it, for purposes of dealing with the government and industry, and also to demarcate the country from claims by other Aboriginal groups.

Angus Namponen, with his elderly uncle, Jack Spear, and their extended family, take Sutton and the filmmakers into the bush around a large salt-water inlet, to show them places that they know and remember from their youth. The location of the sites is then recorded by Sutton and on film as a form of "permanent registration" of the places and their significance. Whether these are sacred or secular sites, they are all part of the "closely-knit fabric" of elements in the landscape and the history of the family's relationship to them.

Angus's dilemma is that he would prefer to bring his family to live in this, their own country, but has to balance that wish with his recognition that the children need to go to school in town. The process of mapping with Peter Sutton has significance in introducing Angus's children to the country and to the family's own history – both a process of recording memories and transmitting knowledge.

English subtitles and English narration

Directed and photographed by David MacDougall
Sound by Judith MacDougall
Commentary by Peter Sutton
Production support: Michele Day

Produced by the AIAS Film Unit (Australian Institute of Aboriginal Studies, Canberra) - 1980

Ronin Films wishes to advise Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people that this film may contain images and voices of deceased persons.