From its opening frames, After the Apology grips like a vice.
This decisive documentary gives a voice to the Aboriginal families dislocated during the Stolen Generations. It also puts a face to contemporary statistics, as four grandmothers take on the Federal Government in hope of reuniting with their grandbabies. By doing so, they spark a national movement to protect Indigenous communities from brutal and biased child removal practices, giving promise to thousands of families nationwide.
In 2008, Prime Minister Kevin Rudd made a formal apology to the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples forcibly removed from their kin and country since the mid-1800s. Yet rates of Indigenous children placed in out-of-home care have increased since Rudd’s speech.
Subject experts, such as Behrendt, say the numbers today are even worse than during the Stolen Generations. After the Apology documents the resultant grief and suffering felt by hundreds of thousands of First Nations peoples.
Behrendt is an Eualeyai and Kamillaroi woman from New South Wales. She’s an author, filmmaker, radio presenter, legal academic and political advocate.
Along with producer Michaela Perske, Behrendt received the Indigenous Feature Documentary Initiative from Screen Australia, Adelaide Film Festival, KOJO and the National Film and Sound Archive. The fruit of that funding is this uncompromising documentary, which has its world premiere at Adelaide Film Festival in October.
Using animation, text on screen, still photography, interviews, dramatic monologues and observational sequences, Behrendt illustrates the reach of this epidemic.
Although the stories of abuse and injustice are harrowing to hear, merely watching the film will never compare to actually enduring the trauma it details. In that way, After the Apology is vital viewing for Australians hitherto untouched by the issue. Behrendt, Perske and the Grandmothers Against Removal have performed extraordinary emotional labour to produce this alarming report of our country’s dark past, and present.
But the film is also hopeful, thanks to the resolute matriarchs reshaping public attitudes, policies, and prospects for future generations of Indigenous kids.
The world premiere of After the Apology is on Monday, October 9, followed by an encore screening on Sunday, October 15. Adelaide Film Festival runs until Sunday, October 15. Check out the full program, and read more Film Festival stories on InDaily here.