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Gurrumul

Australian, Documentary, Review, Theatrical Leave a Comment

Geoffrey Gurrumul Yunipingu was a legend of Australian music. He was loved by many and continues to be loved even after his death in July of 2017. Gurrumul showcases the life that Gurrumul led, the highs and even the lows.

Directed by Paul Damien Williams, Gurrumul takes us into the life of Geoffrey Gurrumul Yunipingu, showing his beginnings in the music industry, with his time as the quiet guitar player of The Saltwater Band and when he met producer and long-time friends Micheal Hohnen and manager Mark Grose, and how they started the Skinnyfish music record company. Williams even chooses to show the very end of his music career, which was the final performance of his orchestral album at The Sydney Opera House.

The filmmakers showcase the life that Gurrumul led at his home, Elcho Island off North east Arnhem Land and the struggles that he went through as he was born blind along with the challenges his parents faced when they first realised their son was born blind.

There’s a bittersweet quality shown with Gurrumul’s relationship to his home, with touching footage of Gurrumul singing, juxtaposed with his people on Elcho Island. This shows that no matter how far Gurrumul got in the music industry, home was always a big part of him.

Gurrumul’s music career was not all highs, he went through low points during his life which included the time where he didn’t show up to his first American tour and the death of his mother and his father.

Gurrumul is a touching homage to the life of one of Australia’s most respected and beloved musicians. This documentary will make sure that he lives on and is never forgotten.

 
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MAMIL

Australian, Documentary, Festival, Review, This Week Leave a Comment

They’re a familiar sight for most of us: the peloton of amateur cyclers gathering on early mornings and weekends, wending their way through the roads and highways of our home towns and cities. Lycra-clad cyclists racing together come rain, hail or shine in a somewhat atavistic display of warrior brotherhood. Of course, there are plenty of women who ride too, though the subjects of this homegrown documentary are predominantly male: Middle Aged Men In Lycra (MAMIL).

It’s not a term that has achieved common household use, but it’s been seized upon as the moniker of choice for these men, perhaps because it sounds almost derogatory in nature, the flippancy belying the individual stories of the pain of mid-life, the commonality of the bewildering existence of the career-person and the yearn for community and substantive connection with other humans.

The subjects are varied: Perth and Adelaide-based charity riders as well as a variety of cyclists and groups throughout Australia, the US and the UK. War stories are shared, describing the ongoing fracas between motorists and cyclists and some disturbingly life-threatening road injuries sustained in the pursuit of challenging oneself mentally and physically amidst ‘the group’. Several men describe their personal battles through periods of severe depression, one speaking candidly of his suicidal thoughts at one point in his life, another dealing with throat cancer treatment, both finding strength and solace in their cycling communities.

It’s engaging viewing, though it’s not really about cycling, is it? There is strong evidence to suggest that the reason the average human-monkey crumbles under the weight of the stresses of modern life is that we are simply not meant to exist in expansive groups of disconnected, fragmented individuals cramming into soulless metropolitan sprawls. For thousands of years, we lived in small communities, hunted food and shared stories in small groups, most importantly; we suffered together and shared our human experience, in small groups. These instincts are strong in us, they call to us amidst the overwhelming and rapid advance of our societal structures; under it all we’re all still cave dwellers.