Guwaaldana Giidhi: A film from the elders / by Glenn Dixon

It is my great pleasure to share the opening scene from our community documentary project: Guwaaldana Giidhi (Speaking from the heart). Unfortunately we are not quite ready to release the full version online as we are currently exploring broadcast and film festival opportunities.

On Saturday evening we held a small screening for the community in Goondiwindi to share and celebrate the work completed to date. It was incredibly moving to be present and experience the audiences reaction frame by frame. The majority of my films are now delivered online and I rarely share the work with a live audience. This event reminded me what making films is all about; Being present in the moment, sharing the journey with special people and allowing the film to present an unexpected or alternate way of viewing the world.

The process of crafting this documentary has imparted on me a profound cultural, interpersonal and spiritual consciousness raising. I was moved by the sincerity and dignity of the stories shared by the elders and felt incredibly privileged to be entrusted with them. There were times during filming when I was moved to tears by what I was capturing that I was unable to operate the camera. Throughout the project I felt a tremendous responsibility to represent these deeply personal offerings  with care and respect.

In addition to the twenty minutes of film presented within this first work, there is approximately seven hours of additional interview material. If all goes to plan, we will continue the project next year and craft additional films and resources from new and existing material.


Extract from project proposal:

• Record the personal life-experiences and stories of Aboriginal Elders from Goondiwindi, Boggabilla and Toomelah.
• Preserve and protect these life-experiences and stories for future generations of Aboriginal people living in the region.
• Utilise these life-experiences and stories to develop key education and economic resources for the community.

The Aboriginal communities of Boggabilla and Toomelah (NSW), along with Goondiwindi (QLD), have been subjected to significant levels of disadvantage for many years. This has included high levels of unemployment, low levels of education attainment and literacy and numeracy, increased juvenile and adult crime rates as well as sexual and personal assault cases, chronic personal health and unsanitary living conditions, particularly in Toomelah.

The concern within these communities is that generations of young Aboriginal people are growing up without any idea of who they are, where they come from, what their culture is or any positive role models. This lack of cultural identity and leadership is contributing to Aboriginal youths pursuing negative pathways of destruction.

The feeling within the communities is that if the cultural heritage currently held with Aboriginal elders can be recorded and then used to education Aboriginal youths on their culture it will provide a means of restoring cultural pride and a genuine feeling of belonging. In-turn it is anticipated that this will have a positive flow-on effect for these Aboriginal youths as they start to embrace their identity. In addition, with elders from all Aboriginal families represented in the Oral History Project it gives the community as a whole something positive to focus on that will benefit everyone for the future. Comments from within the Aboriginal families have suggested that if the Aboriginal elders can come together it would be a significant turning point for all community relationships.

Video top:  Opening scene from Guwaaldana Giidhi.
Photograph middle: Guwaaldana Giidhi Premiere in Goondiwindi. November 2014.
Gallery below: Behind the scenes.

A big thanks to our funding partners who made this project possible:
Goondiwindi and Texas PACE initiative
Goondiwindi Regional Council
The Regional Arts and Development Fund (RADF) and Arts Queensland
Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet
New South Wales Environment