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In My Blood it Runs: A triumphant protest of prejudice! 10 December 2021

Review of “In My Blood It Runs” (Dir. Maya Newell), 2019, by Rebecca Rees, BA (Hons) Creative Writing (year 1), Nottingham Trent University.

The sombre figure of a young boy visiting his grandfather’s grave to restore his healing powers sounds like the premise to a Hollywood blockbuster. But this is just one of the many real-life scenes from Maya Newell’s poignant 2019 documentary “In My Blood it Runs.” A gritty, joyful piece based on the Aboriginal people of Australia, the documentary is a scintillating collaboration of breath-taking landscape, child-like innocence and what it means to be Aboriginal.

Dujuan pictured with his mother.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The ground-breaking film follows the life of Dujuan a young boy living in his town’s Aboriginal camp: Happy Valley, who is believed to have healing powers amongst his people. He is bright and intuitive but clearly troubled. We see him constantly run away from home and school and his admirable fearlessness around nature and the bush that he loves. Much of the film is shown through Dujuan’s eyes, giving the viewer a first-hand glimpse into his Indigenous community. The range of diverse people we meet throughout the documentary are self-aware and vibrant and we are left with some meaningful quotes such as “you have to learn about the past so it can help you for the future” and “learn both ways so that when you get your land back you know what to do with it.”

The whole family.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

With Organisations such as Black Lives Matter and Show Racism the Red Card gaining notoriety in recent years, there is a real danger of racial pieces such as this being lost amongst the many. The fly on the wall film manages to stand out from the masses due to its unapologetic approach and focus on the harsh reality of Aboriginal life. The Peabody nominated documentary succeeds in truly centring around its chosen subject rather than taking the usual ironic route of “white saviourhood.”  There are various moments during the film that flash back to early 20th century Australia. The piece aims to address the racism towards Aboriginal people, and the film shows us a clear contrast between the propaganda being preached during these clips and the lives of the modern-day Aboriginals. The switch between the two is managed seamlessly, avoiding what could have easily been confusing or pointless.

The documentary aims to tackle racism in the educational and criminal justice systems in Australia.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The film has managed to achieve a good balance between child-led and directed scenes leading to organic and often emotional viewing. The soundtrack, composed by Benjamin Speed, is a mysterious mix of orchestral instruments coupled with a loud flurry of everyday sounds, which makes for a hectic, dream-like state throughout the documentary. This is undoubtedly an ingenious nod to the chaos in which Dujuan lives his life, surrounded by structural racism, in an education system unintended for, and biased against Aboriginal children. The documentary makes excellent use of the magnificent Australian landscape and is eighty-five minutes of bright colour and natural beauty combined.

Dujuan is believed to have healing powers amongst his tribe.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

As someone who knows little about Aboriginal culture this piece answered a lot of questions I wasn’t even aware I had. What language do they speak? How are their families structured? What do they eat, wear, do? I found the documentary to be eye-opening whilst remaining respectful to the Arrente and Garrwa tribes. The decision to include both English and the Arrente language adds to the authenticity of the film and once again, reflects the director’s obvious compassion and understanding towards the  issues faced by Aboriginal people.

Dujuan celebrates his birthday with his family.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Throughout the documentary, there are frank discussions about the country’s criminal justice system. We are shown harrowing scenes of Juvenile centres in Australia where racism and physical abuse are rife. The film ends by telling us that 100 percent of young people in these violent centres are Aboriginal. Despite this, the documentary is not one of doom and gloom, but rather, a triumphant protest of prejudice and an important lesson to learn and grow from.

The documentary is truly a colourful journey into the lives of First Nation families. Though heart-warming and educational, it manages to serve its purpose in shining the light on racism in Australia and urging us to treat children like Dijuan equally.

The film shows Dujuan’s desire to be free.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

If you don’t wish to be challenged to make a difference, then by all means give this astounding film a miss. However if you would like to be part of the change you can watch a screening of “In My Blood it Runs” on the Bonington Gallery website or YouTube channel as part of their 2021 Formations series.

Likewise, you can support the movement against racism in Australia’s juvenile and education systems by visiting the website: www.inmyblooditruns.com

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