The Aboriginal people of Australia are considered the oldest living culture on earth; Kanyini (which means interconnectedness in Pitjantjatjara) exposes some of the ins and outs of this culture. They are also custodians and practitioners of the longest continuing art tradition in the world. At the heart of these people, these cultures, these lands, lies the majestic Uluru; or in white fella's language, Ayers Rock. This is 'Uncle' Bob Randall's home - quite literally, his backyard. A traditional owner of the Uluru lands, one of the 'stolen generations' as a child who became Indigenous Person of the Year in 1999, Uncle Bob (born 1934) speaks of these lands, of his people. Based on his own personal journey and the wisdom he learnt from the old people living in the bush, Uncle Bob explains why Indigenous people are now struggling in a modern world and what needs to be done for them to move forward.
Review by Andrew L. Urban:
Uncle Bob Randall, a white bearded 71 year old when he made this doco in 2005, speaks of the importance of "Kanyini - the interconnectedness of my belief system, my spirituality, my land, and my family ... I've got to connect with each of these to be whole..." In a nutshell he exposes the universality of the human condition. Which one of us doesn't need that Kanyini to be a balanced person? In this profound respect alone, the film provides its own interconnectedness with us white fellas and Uncle Bob's mob. Melanie Hogan has added powerful images to what is essentially a 'talking head' work; she has wrangled a compelling film out of a monologue and connected us to the land that Randall talks about with such undying love.
Randall's story of his people's history as it interconnects with white settlement and the damage done to his culture is shocking from today's perspective. His use of 'you' as he speaks to the off-camera filmmaker is confronting, as he ticks off the abuses committed against 'me' - as in representing his people. Educated Australians know this story, of course, at least in a general sense, but by making it personal and by connecting it to the spirituality of his culture, Randall underlines the damage done.
Bob's mother was a housemaid at Angus Down cattle station; his father was the station owner, Bill Liddle. As a half caste, he was one of the victims of misguided and heartless Government policy and taken away from his family, moved to a mission in Arnhem Land.
Today, his people are stuck in the middle of two cultures: the old ways are not available, nothing's left of the natural resources they lived on. The new, white culture is alien and forbidding, hard to understand. Confused, the only way out is education: but all attempts so far have failed, he says. New ways need to be found, incorporating the old ways and the new ways. We may not like what Uncle Bob has to say, but it needs to be said, and it needs to be heard. By us white fellas - and his mob, too.
Published June 21, 2007
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KANYINI: DVD (PG)
CAST: Documentary featuring Bob Randall
NARRATION: Bob Randall
PRODUCER: Melanie Hogan, Bob Randall
DIRECTOR: Melanie Hogan
CINEMATOGRAPHER: Martin Lee and Denson Baker, ACS
EDITOR: Melanie Hogan
MUSIC: David Page
RUNNING TIME: 53 minutes
AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: Hopscotch
AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: August 31, 2006
SPECIAL FEATURES: None
DVD DISTRIBUTOR: Roadshow Home Entertainment
DVD RELEASE: June 20, 2007