Situated south of Derby in the West Kimberley, Jarlmadangah is a unique community often hailed as ‘a model community’ for its many social and cultural achievements. At the centre of the story are two brothers, John and Harry Watson, Elders in the Nyikina and Mangala nations.

The community was first formed in 1987 when John and Harry Watson set out to establish Jarlmadangah as a focus for strong family ties, traditional language, law and culture, with the main aim of passing these onto the next generations of young people in the two nations.

Illustrated by archival photos and moving images, John Watson tells the history of the community and looks back at his family’s history. As a young adult, he witnessed poverty and slums in Indonesia and became determined to return to his home land and build a community free from alcohol and poverty, where children could be safe and traditional culture protected. Self-reliance was a basic principle of the new community. As John Watson says: “We are not sit-down people – we have a lot of responsibility”.

In October 2008, Jarlmadangah hosted the Kimberley Land Council and Kimberley Aboriginal Law and Culture Festival over a 5 day period, to coincide with their own community’s 20th anniversary celebrations. People from all over the Kimberley came for this celebration, complete with dance, song and hunting.

Through the film, we are welcomed into a remote Indigenous community and have the opportunity to gain an insight into way of life – where we go well off the beaten track.


Release dates
2007 - Australia
Video/DVD release date
January 2011
Best International Short Documentary - 2008 International Cherokee Film Festival
G - general
Ronin Films
Petris Torres

Watch now or find a DVD/BlueRay copy

Powered by JustWatch

Browse a list of Aboriginal film suppliers and distributors

Other films by Cornel Ozies

Go exploring!

Use the Aboriginal film timeline to discover films you never heard of.

Take the quiz: Are you an Aboriginal movie buff?

Cite this page

Korff, J 2018, Jarlmadangah, <>, retrieved 16 June 2024

Creative Spirits is a starting point for everyone to learn about Aboriginal culture. Please use primary sources for academic work.

Join thousands of Smart Owls who know more!