WINDA FILM FESTIVAL ARTISTIC DIRECTOR PAULINE CLAGUE ON CELEBRATING INDIGENOUS CINEMA

Now in it’s second year, the WINDA Film Festival, dedicated to showcasing the work of Indigenous filmmakers around the world, is set to kick off in Sydney this November.

WINDA Artistic Director Pauline Clague sat down to chat about this year’s Festival which will screen features, documentaries and shorts from over six countries, including nine Australian premieres and two international premieres.

“I think our main themes for this year are resilience and women,” said Clague. “The stories that Indigenous filmmakers are doing around the world are trying to show strength in the adversity of the story and to increase the stories of our women in the community. From films like Waru, made by 8 Maori women, to the doco Mankiller… to the closing night film After the Apology, about the grandmothers who are taking up the fight to keep their grandchildren safe and with family.”

“The strength of our communities and their resilience is shown in the power of these works and many more in the community. But we also want people to share in the fun and laughter of our community and to share the good and the bad of all our stories.”

This year’s Festival will open with Warwick Thornton’s excellent drama Sweet Country, which has already garnered strong reviews from the Venice and Adelaide Film Festivals.

“Warwick Thornton is a part of a significant movement of Indigenous cinema in this country,” said Clague. “It is a story that has a western feel, but with a very Australian story to it. The subtlety of Warwick not using a soundtrack in the film, but to allow the wind and beat of the earth to be the soundtrack to the story is something that shows his strength in allowing us to be in the moment with the story and allowing us the audience to make up our own mind about how we feel about the injustices created.

“We are very privileged to be able to show Sweet Country on opening night and to see the growth of our voices on the big screen.”

Having inaugurated the Festival in 2016, the organisers are hoping to engage even more of the community with the slated series of films and cinema masterclasses.

“I think the festival last year allowed us to show the need for celebrating our Indigenous films and that there was interest within the community,” explains Clague. “This year we have brought the festival closer to city for easier access and we are seeing another year of Indigenous films doing well on the Festival circuit, with Sameblod, Sweet Country and Waru all doing well in key Festivals; we want to bring the community together to see these films as well.”

“This year we have two masterclasses, one being with the legendary Alanis Obomsawin, who is a prolific Activist Documentarian and being able to bring her to Australia for the first time and share some of the insights into the Indigenous voice on screen will be very powerful. We hope in the future to be able to grow into a space for our emerging artists to engage with, but also the cross-platform artists… (the) VR (Virtual Reality) world has become an interesting fusion for our storytelling and we would love to showcase some of this work in the future in Sydney.”

The WINDA Film Festival will screen at Event Cinemas, George St from November 23-26