Growing up isn’t easy, especially for Zach who is rapidly making the transition from boyhood to manhood, in both the modern world and his ancient culture. Pressures from his loving, but staunch father, the temptations of city life and the ever present spectre of racism all take their toll. Ultimately Zach must embrace the traditions and knowledge of his ancestors and awaken the warrior within.
When we first meet Zach he is a bright, friendly 10-year-old boy who loves his dad, Alec. Zach talks excitedly about his upcoming initiation ceremony, a cultural obligation for his tribe and a vital part of his indigenous heritage. Zach yearns to be seen as a man in the eyes of tribal society and, more importantly, his father.
Complications arise as Zach enters adolescence and the pressures of his life mount. Zach feels too white to be accepted by his family and friends and too black for his inner city peers. Combined with Alec’s well-intentioned but strict style of parenting, Zach snaps and starts to rebel.
Against the backdrop of Indigenous oppression, Zach’s teenage experimentation and his violent reactions to racism leads the troubled youth to some dark places. Alec knows that without a true connection to his culture, Zach is lost. It’s time for Zach to answer the call of his Elders, to take part in the ancient rite of passage and walk in the footsteps of his ancestors.
The Zach we meet at 15 is neither the bright-eyed boy nor the angry teenager. He’s someone new, he’s a boy who may finally understand what it means to become a man. He goes on a journey of discovery into ancient traditions that date back thousands of years and have been passed down through the generations. But is Zach ready to take on the responsibility of his tribe and family, or will he seek the easier but temporary answers of the modern world? Is Zach really ready to take this next step and awaken the warrior within?
Zach’s Ceremony is an extraordinary, feature-length documentary captured over ten years that shows one boy’s journey to manhood in a complex, emotionally driven story. Its themes are universal: that of family and connection, but also explores the fascinating and unique question of what it means to be a modern man belonging to the oldest living culture on earth.
- Zach Doomadgee - himself
Alec Doomadgee - himself
- Release dates
- 11 June 2016 - Australia
- Winner: Best Documentary, Sydney Film Festival 2016
- PG - Parental guidance
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