I'm here on the couch, drinking lemsip, surrounded by cats with more interest than they should have in vegetable soup, reading/watching romcoms, wondering if I can justify buying a new toaster (one with deco colours) and thinking about what an unusual reality we white (and I imagine some black) expats inhabit in Alice.
I'm reminded of the unusual reality factor after reading comments on Laura's excellent blogpost about S+D. I was going to comment, but then my thoughts grew too long so I decided to write my own blogpost instead (don't you hate it when someone says that?)
I'm scared of committing some of my thoughts into the ether, because of how they might sound: defensive, hypercritical, and so on. I'm really quite surprised and overwhelmed by the response to S+D, and I imagine the film-makers are as well. I thought it would be a boutique film that only a handful of people saw -- those who like to keep up with left-wing political issues. I am wary of ra-ra leftie stuff in general: liking something just because it has Aboriginal or migrant themes, confusing politics with aesthetics, preaching to the converted, and so forth. I also thought some of the film's nuances might be too enigmatic for a broader audience. I'm quite amazed by the emotionality of the response to the film from people outside Alice: it suggests to me that the film exposed dimensions of Aboriginal experience that people were not aware of or hadn't fathomed (and perhaps can't be adequately conveyed through other forms, such as investigative journalism and opinion piece-writing). It's a considerable achievement for Thornton to have communicated so powerfully across so many different cultural barriers.
By contrast, the response in Alice at the screening was, as far as I can tell, a lot more muted, a lot more considered even. I don't know, for example, of anyone who cried. The crowd was strangely quiet for 2000 people at the end; the mood was sombre. Which might look like indifference, or the conviction of guilty consciences. But I think the reality is more complex than that. People seemed to be processing, which continued over the next couple of days in conversations I heard around town. Interestingly, I heard far more aesthetic evaluations of the film from people in the NT than I've heard in any of the national film reviews I've read, even directly after the screening. For example, people made comparisons with Ivan Sen's Beneath Clouds, which is to my mind a more developed and sophisticated film in some ways.