Dujuan lives two truths – the power of identity, culture and family as his positive life force. His other truth is the impact of the post colonial history of brutality, fear and exclusion that sets his life trajectory towards profound risk and onto a well worn treadmill towards incarceration and welfare and early death that devastates so many children and families.
This film was made on the lands of the Arrernte and Garrwa people.
With In My Blood It Runs we wanted to dispel the conventional myths of failure, trauma and dysfunction of First Nations families and instead amplify the determination, strength and love that is so often exempt from our screens.
Dujuan knows the blood line that runs through him – of the first people who walked these lands and of the violence against his people following colonization. He faces the struggle of so many First Nations children, who want to be seen, understood and live as Aboriginal children, “I just want to be me, an Aborigine.”
Dujuan and his family want this film to have an impact in improving the lives and wellbeing of all First Nations children. Their key messages are:
- We want Australians to know that we love our children
- Aboriginal people have solutions and want the agency to control their own lives
The ‘impact strategy’ designed by the Arrernte and Garrwa family and advisors has three main themes: tackling racism, reforming juvenile justice and reforming education. These goals are areas of work that many people across Australia have been working towards for many years. Our impact will work to complement and support this work with a range of partners to amplify and further stimulate change.
- Address racism by sharing lived experiences of First Nations people and challenging structural racism.
- Champion and build significant support for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander led education system.
“Everyone is always saying that we need to make our kids ready for school, but why can’t we make schools ready for our children?” – MK Turner
Children’s Ground and National Youth Education Coalition (NIYEC) are supporting the development of Utyerre Apanpe (First Nations Educators’ Network) to build political support for a formal and distinct First Nations Led education system.
Australia is the only western colonised country that does not have any formal First Nations education system. The United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples dictates that kids have a right to learn in their own language and through their own culture.
- Mainstream schools become more culturally safe for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students
We are advocating for culturally responsive practice in teaching training and for mainstream schools, we will create study guides and professional development resources for teachers on culturally safe/ responsive schools+ Learn More
Reform juvenile justice to ensure that it is therapeutic, restorative and that incarceration is the last resort
- To raise the criminal age of responsibility from 10 to 14/16.
- To close Don Dale youth detention centre in the Northern Territory
- To promote a greater focus on justice reinvestment and therapeutic justice alternatives
All of these issues are linked. Most importantly children and families are seeking dignity, justice and cultural respect within all parts of their lives.
As we move into 2020 we will be focusing on education reform as a key driver in promoting identity and culture while also preventing racism, incarceration, unemployment and ill-health .
The key impact goal is to ensure Dujuan and children like Dujuan, can enter education and know that they belong and know that they can succeed. First Nations educators are leading this reform nationally and have been pushing for change for decades. We are 30-years behind other countries.
The film aims to amplify the work of Children’s Ground and Utyerre Apanpe in their efforts with Government to achieve significant reform in education for First Nations children across the country.
Dujuan’s grandmother, Carol, speak clearly about education in the film:
“ I want my grandchildren to be educated. So they know the system when they grow up. We should be teaching our kids Arrernte. Fluent Arrernte. Not a poor version of Arrernte but to speak the language of our old people. And the best time is when we are in our homeland.
White people educate our kids in the way they want them to be educated. But I need them to speak their language so that they can carry on their language. We want our kids growing up learning in both ways.”- Close
A message from the Director, Maya Newell
This film has been 3 years in the making, and built on over a decade of my ongoing relationships with Arrernte families in Alice Springs. Uniquely, we made it in collaboration with all onscreen through workshops from early messaging stage – to watching assembly edits – all the way through to completion and film impact. In this sense, I honour my collaborating directors; Dujuan Hoosan, Carol Turner, Megan Hoosan, James Mawson, Margaret Anderson. Our advisors William Tilmouth, Margaret Kemarre Turner, Amelia Turner, Agnes Abbott and our Executive Producer & Traditional Owner of Mparntwe, Felicity Hayes. Everyone has worked hard on this film.
This film was made possible by the generosity of a large number of people and some key organisational partners. In particular Akeyulerre Healing Centre & Children’s Ground in Alice Springs as well as Good Pitch Australia & Shark Island Institute.
Special thanks to Jane Vadiveloo, the founding CEO of Children’s Ground who was also instrumental in the establishment of Akeyulerre has been a personal mentor and guide in my journey on this film & with the roll out.
And of course our incredible film team; Sophie Hyde & Closer Productions. I would like to recognise Larissa Behrendt and Rachel Edwardson, First Nations film Directors, who provided extensive support to me and the team – especially in providing critical guidance and understanding of the political and cultural context of the film.
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Around a decade ago, when I was 21, I had the privilege to be invited by elders and families at Akeyulerre Healing Centre in Alice Springs to make films with them about the empowering work families are doing to educate their children in language, culture and identity. Over these years, I sat with Elders as they recorded songlines for their grandchildren for fear they may be lost, seen kids visit their country for the first time and heard children speaking confidently and fluently in their first, second or third language.
I was shocked to learn that our mainstream education system perceives these same children as failures at school. And it’s no surprise, when Australia and in many Western countries, these kids are only taught in English and their successes are measured by western values. Rarely do we see or value the inner lives as they navigate the rich and complex multi-cultural society they are born into.
The first documentary I directed, Gayby Baby, taught me that children are rarely given the agency to tell their own stories – but when they are, people stop and listen. When Gayby Baby was banned in NSW schools by the NSW government, the film spiked a national debate about the lived experience of Gayby children. In My Blood it Runs takes on another heated national debate; about how Australia treats First Nations children; and reveals the voice of the kids themselves.
This film is held by three incredible producers. Sophie Hyde, an acclaimed producer/director who has just had her last film, Animals premiere at Sundance; Rachel Edwardson, an Inupiat filmmaker and educator from Alaska who has lead much of the consultation strategy; Larissa Behrendt, a filmmaker, human rights lawyer, public figure and professor at UTS. Also core in making the ship seamlessly move is Associate Producers, Alex Kelly and Lisa Sherrard.
Where conventional documentary filmmaking, producers show ‘subjects’ the film at the end of the process (at rough cut) – if they are lucky. In our film, those onscreen are credited as Collaborating Directors: Dujuan Hoosan, Carol Turner, Megan Hoosan, James Mawson, Margaret Anderson and Jimmy Mawson. Together with an incredible board of Advisors they been watching rushes and edits from preproduction all the way through the process and participated in story workshops along the way.
These Advisors are: William Tilmouth, Aboriginal leader and co-founder of Children’s Ground, Agnes Abbott; one of the most knowledgeable Arrernte Elders in Alice Springs, Margaret Kemarre MK Turner; one of the most senior, respected Arrernte elders who who leads the work at Children’s Ground; Amelia Turner, a well respected Arrernte “Ngangkere”/Traditional Healer and Jane Vadiveloo, the founding CEO of Children’s Ground with over 20 years experience working for justice in the Territory.
Felicity Hayes is the Senior Traditional Owner of Alice Springs and the Executive Producer of the film. She holds this position as she has given us guidance on the story, as well as granting us access and permission to film on her country.
We were extremely lucky to receive support from Good Pitch Australia and Documentary Australia Foundation. This support has enabled us to plan a multi year strategy for social impact that dovetails with our distribution.
It has been a privilege to have had the opportunity to learn from Dujuan over these years. I have often been inspired by Dujuan’s courage to speak his truth. I have been struck by his innate moral code and his heartbreaking wisdom. He is growing up to be a strong young man and I believe his honesty could challenge Australia to tell our countries truth too.
I make films because I believe that stories can affect us at our emotional core and have potential to open hearts and minds like no other campaigning tool. They allow us to experience the humanity of others in a way that statistics and reports cannot.- Close