On coun­try

Short film tack­les in­dige­nous is­sues

Pilbara News - - Front Page - Tom Zaun­mayr

A group of four young boys are un­der the beat­ing Pil­bara sun, walk­ing through spinifex plains be­neath the red rock hills.

Lead­ing them is one of their elders, de­ter­mined to re­con­nect four lost souls with their cul­ture and coun­try.

The boys had been at a party, “car­ry­ing on like silly bug­gers” as di­rec­tor Tyson Mowarin puts it, when their elder pulls them away to take out to coun­try on a jour­ney to learn their iden­tity.

It is a story that hits close to home for many in­dige­nous peo­ple try­ing hard to re­con­nect to their cul­ture.

It is a story Mowarin has de­cided to tell through film.

The short film, ti­tled Undis­cov­ered Coun­try, fea­tures ac­claimed Gulf coun­try ac­tor Tom E. Lewis, who plays the role of the elder try­ing to save the boys from los­ing their iden­tity.

Lewis has re­cently re­turned from Lon­don, where he starred as King Lear in a Cre­ole adap­ta­tion of the Shake­speare play, re­named The Shadow King.

He said it was an honour to walk on Pil­bara coun­try and be part of this fam­ily.

“What a priv­i­lege to be in­vited out here with this fam­ily, to come to their coun­try, dance in their sto­ries, be part of some­thing re­ally spe­cial,” he said.

“I’m a spoilt man in the in­dus­try. I’ve learnt from our mob and I’ve been to the school of knocks and learnt from our fam­ily and peo­ple in the in­dus­try.”

De­spite his suc­cess play­ing King Lear, Lewis has re­mained grounded and well con­nected to his own land.

“If we were bad when we were young we got boomerangs or got left on an is­land and then, you know, you learn quick,” he said.

“The film in­dus­try ac­tu­ally has a lot of his­tory of our peo­ple work­ing to­gether in it and that’s why I love it.

“You and I have to look after the coun­try be­cause with­out it you can’t dance.”

For the lo­cal boys, work­ing along­side Lewis is a chance to gain first-hand ex­pe­ri­ence along­side an in­dige­nous suc­cess story in the cre­ative arts.

Lewis’ Shake­speare con­nec­tion will con­tinue in Undis­cov­ered Coun­try, in which his char­ac­ter car­ries a copy of Ham­let that he uses to re­late to the young boys on their jour­ney.

Mowarin said Ham­let was a de­vice used to put the mes­sage across about iden­tity and con­nec­tion to coun­try.

He said he knew he wanted to work with Lewis from the be­gin­ning of the film.

“I’ve al­ways liked Tom, I grew up watch­ing his films, like Naked Coun­try,” he said.

“At the start of this year ScreenWest told me I was cho­sen in this El­e­vate 70 film ini­tia­tive to make my short film.

“Once I knew I was mak­ing it, I got hold of Tom. I al­ways wanted him for the role right from the start.”

Mowarin is one of a host of prom­i­nent next-gen­er­a­tion in­dige­nous voices mak­ing them­selves heard across the Pil­bara.

Wee­ri­anna Street Me­dia is not only a suc­cess for in­dige­nous peo­ple, it is a suc­cess for the Pil­bara.

“Each film project I’m try­ing to make a higher pro­duc­tion value, a bit more reach and now I’m work­ing with Tom, he is a world-class ac­tor,” Mowarin said.

“Any­one can suc­ceed any­where they want to. We’re a long way from a ma­jor city, but that doesn’t stop us from mak­ing top-qual­ity films and other projects.”

Undis­cov­ered Coun­try will be re­leased next year with plans to air it at film fes­ti­vals and on the small screen.

Pic­tures: Tom Zaun­mayr

Tom E. Lewis, front, with Mav­er­ick and Xavier Ea­ton, 15, Nel­son Cop­pin, 15, and Sid­ney Ea­ton, 12.

Cavel Schipp shoots a scene near Pyra­mid Sta­tion.

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