“Because Cook came here and didn’t see fences and farms, he assumed people didn’t live here. And it’s been a struggle ever since to maintain what we’ve got.” From his home in Mparntwe – also known as Alice Springs, Australia – Arrernte elder William Tilmouth is speaking at a virtual Q&A for the film In My Blood It Runs.
William is a member of the Stolen Generations, one of countless Aboriginal people who as children were taken from their families as part of a decades-long coordinated effort by the Australian state to ‘assimilate’ Aboriginal people and eradicate their cultures. He is an advisor for In My Blood It Runs, a collaborative feature documentary that tells the story of one Aboriginal boy’s struggle to avoid incarceration in 21st-century Australia. You can watch the film here.
The observational documentary follows ten-year-old Dujuan, a child healer, skilled hunter, speaker of three languages, and a magnetic protagonist. He is supported by his loving family who fight to give him the Indigenous education he wants and thrives within, even as he ‘fails’ in the settler-colonial education system. The policies that devastated the lives of the Stolen Generations may technically have ended, but Dujuan’s story shows that for Aboriginal children, their legacy is far from over.
In December, William joined director Maya Newell and producer Rachel Naninaaq Edwardson to talk with Skin Deep’s Anu Henriques (Rocks) about the collaborative process behind In My Blood It Runs, and how the film seeks to highlight and resist injustices from juvenile incarceration to Indigenous erasure in Australia.
Dujuan and his family are credited as directors alongside Maya, and it’s this collaborative process behind the camera that gives the story the intimacy and power we see on screen. The Arrernte and Garrwa families in the film and the board of Advisors are core partners, and have been involved in robust consultation throughout. The film also has an impact campaign to ensure that real change emerges from the work, long after the film wraps. “In documentary and for me personally, it doesn’t end when the film stops,” Maya says, speaking of the deep relationships the team built and their ongoing campaigning.
The film was released in Australia in 2019, but the conversation felt timely in 2020 after yet more police murders of Black people in America began a global swell of Black Lives Matter protests. The In My Blood It Runs team and the Aboriginal communities they work with believe that their movements to resist colonialism in Australia must be connected to global anti-racist struggles. As Dujuan says in the film, “When I grow up I’m going to fight for rights for Black people.”
Watch the full conversation between Anu, Maya, Rachel and William below. In My Blood It Runs is available to rent via Skin Deep until 24th December 2020. Watch it now.
Support the impact goals set by Dujuan and his Arrernte and Garrwa families on the film’s Take Action page.
Learn more about Children’s Ground, an organisation run by Dujuan’s grandparents. William Tillmouth is the founding chair. Children’s Ground guided the filmmakers in the development of their working model and supported throughout production, post and impact work.
Support Akeyulerre Healing Centre, one of the very few traditional Aboriginal healing spaces in the world. This group has supported Dujuan’s growing and learning as a young Arrernte healer.