Bleats

Indigenous Art Exists Outside Of NAIDOC Week And Deserves Year-Round Recognition

"That’s just another cliche, isn’t it?"

NAIDOC week is a time in Australia each July that celebrates the history, culture and achievements of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. The week in 2019 runs from the 7th of July to the 14th of July, where people of the community hold celebrations of their culture.

When speaking with Dylan River, a next generation Indigenous filmmaker with prestigious roots in Indigenous film, he acknowledged that NAIDOC week can feel limiting for Indigenous artists.

All of our films end up screening in NAIDOC week, for some reason, and that’s just another cliche, isn’t it?

Dylan River is the son of Warwick Thornton, director and cinematographer of Sweet Country (2017), as well as director and writer of Samson and Delilah (2009) – both important pieces of Aboriginal film.

Dylan would like to see Aboriginal art championed outside the parameters of NAIDOC week.

As much as NAIDOC week is beautiful and celebratory of everything Aboriginal in this country, you don’t want it to be the one week that everyone celebrates and then forgets about it for the rest of the year.

Dylan goes on to explain that Aboriginal stories are ever-present, and need to be reflected as such.

It’s really important that there’s interest in Aboriginal stories throughout the year in our everyday lives, and then we’ll really come to a beautiful place as a country.”

Dylan’s newest venture is a short series on SBS On Demand entitled Robbie Hood. The six episodes of straight-up perfect Aussie comedy follow the antics of young Robbie, who is living in a remote Aboriginal community in Central Australia, staying busy getting rowdy with his mates.

Get amongst it, no matter what week it is.

There's A Reason Why Nailing Indigenous Representation In Media Isn’t As Easy As It Sounds

"There are still people out there taking advantage of Aboriginal stories and not doing it justice."

Indigenous representation in the media can be so wildly inaccurate and offensive, and more often than not, the inaccuracy stems from filmmakers writing objectively without actually experiencing what they’re portraying.

When GOAT spoke with prodigy filmmaker, Dylan River, who spoke on the evolution of Indigenous representation and being true to his roots. Dylan also highlighted the reason stereotypes are so prevalent in past expressions of Indigenous media.

Over the past 30 years, there’s been an extreme push from the Indigenous filmmaking community and things have changed. Before the 1990s, there were no films by Aboriginal people with Aboriginal people in it- they were all made by white fellas, about Aboriginal people, that’s why we had cinema with extreme stereotypes.

Dylan spoke about the success of accurate and passionate storytelling in film and television, now that Indigenous people have been able to take back the power of their own stories.

Now that we’ve taken the power, we’ve taken power of our own stories. You’ve seen the success of these films internationally, you’ve seen how Aboriginal filmmakers are punching well above their weight, in terms of storytelling, and you see the stereotypes- not disappear, but definitely become a lot less.

As well as acknowledging the past, Dylan realises how fortunate he is to be creating in the present.

There are still people out there taking advantage of Aboriginal stories and not doing it justice. I’ve stepped into this being very fortunate, and it’s kind of up to me and up to the other filmmakers of this generation to really keep the hard work going and to not feel complacent.

Dylan River has had the chance to flex his creativity on his new series, Robbie Hood. which challenges stereotypes and misconceptions through the lens of a young boy living in the Northern Territory in Australia.

A lot of my films have used the innocent misunderstandings of the average Australian coming from cities to Alice, and their experiences of what they thought it’d be like versus what it’s actually like. This series is definitely about foster carers and prejudgement of Aboriginal kids, and what their living situation is like.

There definitely is major issues and disadvantages here in the Territory and Robbie Hood really is a comment to that but it’s not like, one shoe fits all.

Nailing Indigenous representation has been, and will continue to pose a challenge to filmmakers because there’s not one story that covers an entire people. Robbie Hood is inspired by Dylan River’s story and as long as stories like his exists, Indigenous representation is in the right hands.

Dylan River Challenges Police Stereotypes In Indigenous Media With New Series ‘Robbie Hood’

'F*ck The Police' is an outdated ideology.

With the influx of must-watch TV shows, it’s no surprise that some real gold can fall off the radar for a lot of us. A valuable piece of cinema has poked its head up above the rest, in the form of SBS On Demand’s Robbie Hood.

The six episodes of straight-up perfect Aussie comedy follow the antics of young Robbie, who is living in a remote Aboriginal community in Central Australia, staying busy getting rowdy with his mates.

Keeping Robbie, Georgia Blue and Big Little Johnny in check is a well-meaning policeman, ‘Shane the Copper’. Whenever the trio find themselves in trouble, or leaning over to the wrong side of the law, Shane is seen to be steering them back in the right direction, rather than scolding them.

In Indigenous media, it’s not uncommon for the police to be painted in a really aggressive and negative way. When GOAT spoke with the director of Robbie Hood, Dylan River, we asked him why he felt it was so important to rewrite that narrative.

“It was really important that we didn’t take a position of the ‘f*ck the police’ ideology. For me that Robbie wasn’t retaliating against police force, or the idea of police in his life.

The policeman is really a guiding figure, and you’ll realise that he’s really only there to help Robbie and his mates, to steer them away from trouble, but if they are in trouble, he understands, and he’s there to help.

At the end of the day, police are human and come in so many shapes and forms. There are good cops and bad cops but it’s also not just black and white- like, just because some films may have depicted cops in certain ways, it doesn’t mean they’re all the same.”

Robbie Hood is the perfect example of Australian television rewriting the stereotypes that were enforced by people before us, and it’s a really positive direction to be taking.

As well as addressing poverty, discrimination and foster care, Robbie Hood is wildly funny and relatable for all Australians, regardless of background.

Also, the episodes are only 10 minutes long and really far too easy to consume, you’ll reach the end and be patiently waiting for more.

Watch the full trailer for Robbie Hood here:

Stream Robbie Hood from 5th July 2019 on SBS On Demand.

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