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Ronin Films

Current releases


Year: 2022

Classification: Exempt - Ronin Recommends: G

Runtime: 95 min

Produced In: Australia

Directed By: Bill Code

Produced By: Bill Code, Christian Pazzaglia

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Vimeo on demand

Available for screenings and on DVD!

'"A deeply moving, evocative and beautiful insight into how a battle to preserve timeless Indigenous culture found hope in a remarkable act of black and white conciliation."
- Paul Daley, author and Guardian journalist.

Presented by the late, great Uncle Jack Charles, The Lake of Scars takes the viewer to a little-known place of outstanding natural beauty, archaeological significance, and age-old culture. But the Indigenous scarred trees and artefacts found here are at risk – until an unlikely intergenerational partnership comes forth to save the site for future generations. The Lake of Scars tells a story of allyship, environmentalism and cultural rebirth; a picture of what reconciliation between Aboriginal and European Australians might look like. But is that idea harder than it seems?

The Lake of Scars is as much a portrait of a hidden facet of Australian history and environment as it is a musing on what reconciliation can look like in Australia. While exploring the beautiful, mysterious scarred trees, middens and stone scatters left at one remarkable site in country Victoria – the ephemeral Lake Boort and surrounds – we meet the people, Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal, who are working against the clock to preserve and promote what they can. With organic relics at its heart - hundred year old scarred and dying trees - the film examines the preservation of culture and environment as our protagonists fight for scarred trees to be preserved, for middens and stone scatters to be protected and recognised, for environmental flows of water to be allowed into the seasonal lake, and for a 'keeping place' to be built. Within the keeping place they hope to put remarkable already deceased trees, as well as dozens of artefacts stored in the former farmer Paul's garage, with the clan's permission.

For Paul, getting the town's almost entirely white population interested has been a slow, hard process. But slowly it takes note - it has an unusual shared history; some of the earliest photos ever taken in Australia were shot here, showing positive relations between settlers and Indigenous people. Paul works tirelessly with clan members - located in Melbourne and other towns, forced from their land in the subsequent 150 years - as together they try to forge a path forward to recognition.

Ultimately though, it is the arrival in Boort of a Yung Balug man much younger than Paul, Jida Gulpilil – son of legendary actor David – who brings his own flavour to his mother's country.

Amidst a backdrop of treaty talks and the fight for water rights, can the relationship between characters of different backgrounds and generations survive the stresses of fighting for country, and overturn 200 years of protocol? Or does the road to reconciliation contain more bumps than we might imagine?


Directed and shot by Bill Code
Story-teller and Co-Writer – Uncle Jack Charles
Produced by Bill Code and Christian Pazzaglia
Composer – Jida Gulpilil
Editor – Nicola Blackmore
Executive Producer – Gary Wyrker Milloo Murray
Executive Producer – Shaun Miller
Cultural Adviser – Ngarra Murray
The Lake of Scars is supported by The Victorian Aboriginal Heritage Council, Documentary Australia Foundation, Eucalypt Australia, and The Dja Dja Wurrung Corporation.

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