We Don’t Need A Map chronicles Thornton’s exploration, amongst other reflections on Australian society, on that most fairly contentious of symbols the Southern Cross.
Himself a subject of controversy for previously positing the perspective, which he re-visits at length in the film, that the Southern Cross is starting to be seen “as a very racist nationalistic emblem,” Thornton’s views are as much on display here as those of his interviewees, with a secondary camera-man steadily documenting Thornton’s reactions to each of a varied set of personalities, many largely of a view akin to the filmmaker’s.
One subject notably puts forward an opinion that directly challenges Thornton’s highly-publicised assertion, though his later actions, literally seeking to remove from himself any semblance of the Southern Cross, go to the heart of the filmmaker’s stated concerns and that of so many of We Don’t Need A Map’s contributors.
The additions of puppets and models, helmed by Thornton, to emphasise and occasionally summarise a number of hugely consequential historic events does go some way to set the tone for the film and too drive it’s point home, their presence contrasting supremely with some of We Don’t Need A Map’s heavier moments which Thornton nonetheless approaches in his distinct fashion not dissimilar to many of his assorted encounters in the documentary, which opened this year’s Sydney Film Festival.
Most interesting when delving into Indigenous traditions and culture and the specific meanings the alignments of the heavens has held for these communities, as well as for segments of society going back some centuries, the sequences on the Cronulla Riots, put forward as the turning point for many as to their predominant view of the symbol, are fleshed out in tandem with numerous challenging questions; the event itself, among so many other topics raised, meriting greater exploration than the time allowed.
We Don’t Need a Map is screening at the Sydney Film Festival, for tickets head to the Festival website