Waiting at the border: white filmmaking on the ground of Aboriginal sovereignty
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There is a photo of TRUGANINI , the so-called ‘last Tasmanian Aborigine’, with cropped hair and wearing a shell necklace, her intense gaze meeting the viewer’s eyes, defying the colonial fantasy of her own or her people’s passing. Her gaze demands a response.1 Jeni Thornley’s poetic filmic essay, Island Home Country (2008), could be thought of as one such, albeit belated, response. Thornley is driven by the question of how she can connect the war against Aboriginal people with her peaceful family memories of growing up in Tasmania, Australia. As a documentary maker, she undertakes a filmic journey to learn about what she seemingly didn’t know: the disturbing history of colonial Tasmania, erased during her own 1950s childhood. Thornley is confounded by how to negotiate ethically and affectively all that she has come to learn about her childhood home and Aboriginal protocols. Nearing the end of the film, the Palawa elder2 Jim Everett asks and answers, “Well, how do you become responsible?”:
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