Just in time for NAIDOC week comes our first look at Namatjira Project, from director Sera Davies, producer Sophia Marinos, BighART, and Umbrella Films.
The film traces not only the life and work of Albert Namatjira, arguably the single most important figure in Indigenous art, but his family’s ongoing battle to reclaim the rights to his body of work and legacy. As the official synopsis says:
“Albert Namatjira was a man caught between cultures – paraded as a great Australian, whilst treated with contempt. He was the first Indigenous person to be made a citizen by the Australian Government. The founder of the Indigenous art movement in Australia, his artworks gave many Australians their first glimpses into the outback heart of the country. He was widely celebrated, exhibited globally, and introduced to Queen Elizabeth.
“In 1957 he was imprisoned for something he didn’t do, and in 1959 he died, a broken man. In 1983 the Government sold the copyright to his artworks to an art dealer. Today his family fight for survival, justice and to regain their grandfather’s copyright.
“This is one of Australia’s most potent stories – illuminating the relationship between Indigenous and non-Indigenous people today, in Australia and globally.”
As Davies says, “Namatjira challenges this singular monocular representation of Albert’s legacy and examines the enduring impact that this type of representation has for current generations of the Namatjira family. It’s our gaze through the single story that ultimately killed Albert and continues to present dire implications for contemporary inter-cultural relations.”
The film is part of a larger, multi-form project aimed at restoring Namatjira’s work to his family and seeking justice for the perceived wrongdoings related to his legacy. A release date has yet to be announced, but late 2017 seems like a safe bet.