Sons of Namatjira examines the relationship between a community of Aboriginal artists and the outside world.
Keith Namatjira is the son of the celebrated artist Albert Namatjira, and emulates his father’s distinctive style. He lives with his family in the same camp that his father had established on the outskirts of Alice Springs in Central Australia.
One of Curtis Levy’s finest documentaries, Sons of Namatjira, follows Keith and his wife, Isabel, and other relatives, in their interactions with the wider world including art galleries in town and bus-loads of middle-aged tourists from the big cities. The film highlights communication difficulties between black and white, and in Levy’s terms, becomes “a parable of black-white relations in Australia”.
Tourists and dealers drive out to the artists’ camp to bargain with the artists in person. Keith feels pressured to accept their offers but dreams that one day he will own a gallery, so that his family can make a decent living from their work. In addition, Keith has other pressures: he has to go to court on a charge of drink-driving, whilst at the same time working with a legal-aid officer on a claim for the land they are living on. He and his family are worried that their land will be swamped by the urban development they can see closing in around them.
This sympathetic portrait of a tiny community of Aboriginal artists is rich in Levy’s characteristic humour and sense of irony. It was the last of Levy’s films for for the Australian Institute of Aboriginal Studies (later to become Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies, AIATSIS), before he returned to independent production, and remains one of the Film Unit’s most widely seen works.
The DVD includes an interview with director, Curtis Levy (recorded in July 2013), about the making of the film.
- Video/DVD release date
- September 2013
- G - general
- Ronin Films
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