The 180-degree dome film follows a pair of school children, Max and Lucia, as they explore the wonder of the night sky, space and time through the world’s largest telescope (the SKA in the Murchison), in addition to our oldest existing culture.
Star Dreaming (directed by Perun Bonser, written and produced by Julia Redwood, and produced by Jules Fortune) is narrated by beloved performer and Yamaji man Ernie Dingo as well as featuring globally renowned astrophysicist, Professor Steven Tingay.
Perun Bonser wishes for the work to alter the way viewers see the world.
“I hope people see the night sky differently, have a new sense of curiosity, appreciation for it and come together.”
A West Australian Aboriginal filmmaker, Bonser has a strong connection to the piece. Previously a dancer, he has always been determined to tell Indigenous stories.
“I dream about this sort of stuff, pushing the boundaries.”
Although he has directed before, Star Dreaming is his first feature documentary.
Julia Redwood (of Prospero Productions) says as well as the film being scientifically sound, it was crucial for the team to ensure it was culturally correct.
“It was very important to us to get it right.”
She values the relationships that were formed while working with Yamaji elders and artists who appear in Star Dreaming.
Yamaji Art create work that displays constellations and the beauty of the sky we all share.
Both filmmakers were thrilled about the premiere of Star Dreaming at CinefestOZ in August.
“It was an absolute buzz. We had the artists come down from Geraldton, so I was a bit nervous, but they were very moved. There were smiles and there were tears,” Redwood said.
“It felt like a great validation of all this work. It really added [to the experience], watching it with fresh eyes,” Bonser said.
The two also agree that it was quite a foreign approach in comparison to their other projects.
“It was a very different technique because it is a flat project. You can’t move the camera too quickly as you don’t want people to feel seasick,” Redwood said.
“It is like a mini theatre. To shoot a dome film is very unconventional. The screen wraps around the audience. It brings a lot of challenges, but the reward is extraordinary,” Bonser said.
The filmmakers said that a great amount of camera testing had to be done to make it work. In order to be invisible on screen, they needed to stand directly behind the camera.
The film will also be showing at the Dome Under Festival in Melbourne. It has been chosen for The Minsk International Film Festival and will also see its North American premiere in Canada.