Movies

Big Boss: The Last Leader of the Crocodile Islands

Synopsis

Murrungga Island is at the top end of Arnhem Land in Australia’s Northern Territory. This is where we find 95-year-old Baymarrwangga, or as she is affectionately known, “Big Boss”, who was honoured as “Senior Australian of the Year, 2012”

Big Boss is the story of this 95-year-old Aboriginal Elder and her challenge as the remaining leader of the Yannhangu people to pass on her traditional knowledge to the next generation.

The film outlines Baymarrwangga’s life story, from her time as a young girl on Murrungga, to the time she saw the arrival of missionaries, witnessed the arrival of Japanese and European fishermen, and then experienced war and tumultuous change. The story documents a historical legacy of government neglect, and suppression of bilingual education and how the language and culture of the Yannhangu came to be in a precarious position.

One of Baymarrwangga’s greatest achievements is the Yannhangu Dictionary. The Dictionary’s main aim is to preserve Yannhangu language and local knowledge from the potentially damaging consequences of rapid global change.

Through the words of the Big Boss herself and members of her community, we learn about the unique lifestyle of the Yannhangu people.

Trailer

Details

Release dates
2012 - Australia
Video/DVD release date
February 2013
Awards
2015 United Nations Association of Australia Media Peace Award
Rating
G - general
Distributor
Ronin Films
Notes

Yan-nhangu language, English subtitles.

Big Boss was primarily filmed on Murrungga Island, the largest of the outer Crocodile Islands in North-East Arnhem Land, where Laurie Baymarrwangga was born and has spent her whole life living on country and upholding the culture of her people.

Laurie Baymarrwangga passed away in August 2014 at the age of 98.

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Harvard citation

Korff, J 2018, Big Boss: The Last Leader of the Crocodile Islands, <https://www.creativespirits.info/resources/movies/big-boss>, retrieved 22 September 2020

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