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Berlin Film Festival shine spotlight on Indigenous films

Extract from Australian Broadcasting Corporation - ABC Online, on 23 February 2005

Writer and director Wayne Blair has hailed Australian film-makers for winning two major awards at the Berlin Film Festival in Germany as "amazing".

Mr Blair says there were three Australian films and two of them were from Indigenous film-makers.

He says the wins are a rare achievement for Australian film.

"Now for two Australian film-makers to win two best shorts at a film festival like these is sort of unheard of," he said.

"Having Indigenous content in the films is sort of another sort of killer, so that's pretty amazing."

Mr Blair won the Crystal Bear for Best Short Film award at the Berlin festival for his half-hour film "The Djarn Djarns".

The film was produced in Rockhampton last year using local Indigenous actors in central Queensland.

Berlin Festival judges said they selected "this beautiful but also sad film because we were very impressed by the dances".

"Through fascinating means, the story brought us closer to the culture of the Aborigines.

"Despite their young age, the actors expressed their emotions in few words.

Blair says judges enjoyed the insight into Australian and Indigenous culture.

"They loved getting into the lives of these four young boys, painting up and working for their money in this big tourism park in Australia," he said.

"They [judges] got all the humorous bits, you know very Aussie, you know a bit of Aboriginal lingo they got; the boys, the way they acted - you didn't have to understand what a certain word was about and what the actual meaning was through the action - sort of gave the film an edge through these Aboriginal boys as the leads."

Indigenous Alice Springs film-maker Warwick Thorton won the festival's Panorama Short Film award at the prestigious festival last week.

Thorton's film "Green Bush" centres on a disc jockey at an Aboriginal radio station in central Australia and highlights the issue of violence in Aboriginal communities

Judges said Thorton's film won for its "excellence in performance and filmic craft, a film that crackles with the music of politics, humanity, ideas and humour as it tells the story of a man's daily struggle to sustain his fragmented community and keep the pain at bay".

Both films will be shown on SBS Television later this year.

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