BLACK CHICKS TALKING
Five diverse black women are drawn together and drawn out by actor, writer and filmmaker Leah Purcell in an exploration of being black and being female in Australia. Award winning actress Deborah Mailman from Mt Isa, former Miss Australia (from Tasmania) Kathryn Hay, cultural tour guide and community police warden from WA, Rosanna Angus, Gympie lawyer Tammy Williams, and Cilla Mallone a mother of six from an Aboriginal settlement in Cherbourg, Queensland.
Review by Andrew L. Urban:
It starts at a private dinner party – very white chick style, complete with menu and a waitress. After quick introductions, we get down to a few trivial round tables, like who’s your dream date. But it soon gets into real black gear, and while cross cultural references still abound, the point of view is always unique and individual. And we also soon leave the dinner table, ending up all over Australia, starting with a gorgeous beach spot in WA.
The easy going opening is deceptive: the women are open and honest. It gently rages against the wrongs suffered, and warmly explores the personal successes. Gingerly edited and smartly presented, Black Chicks Talking is a triumph of documentary making despite the subject being very close to the filmmaker’s heart. And it’s a dinner party like all good dinner parties: they talk ‘bout anythin’.
Like Kathryn Hay’s questioning her right to be at the dinner table, a white girl for all intents and purposes, not discovering a distant Aboriginal link until 7th grade. But she’s assured: it’s to her credit she wears her black ancestry with pride. How she should wear her white ancestry is not canvassed. If Purcell was saddened to hear Hay describe herself as part-Aboriginal, she didn’t say how she’d react if Hay described herself as part-white Australian.
But even if there’s nothing revolutionary in it, the doco presents the issues through people, and with great sensitivity. The honesty is balanced with fun, but the darker edginess is what makes it compelling.
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BLACK CHICKS TALKING (M)
CAST: Documentary featuring Deborah Mailman, Kathryn Hay, Rosanna Angus, Tammy Williams, Cilla Mallone.
PRODUCER: Bain Stewart
DIRECTOR: Leah Purcell (co-director Brendan Fletcher)
SCRIPT: Leah Purcell (co-writer Brendan Fletcher)
CINEMATOGRAPHER: Himman Dhamija
EDITOR: Riva Childs
MUSIC: Brendan O’Brien
PRODUCTION DESIGN: n/a
RUNNING TIME: 51 minutes
AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: Film Australa
AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: February 7, 2003 (in double bill with Afghan Alphabet)