May, 2024 | Sydney, Australia

Truth

Shane and I have been honoured to represent Pink Monkey and attend the National Reconciliation Week event in Sydney hosted by Wesley Mission. 

Commissioned by Wesley Mission, the film is set to become a cornerstone of their Aboriginal Cultural Awareness Training. Wesley Mission aims to use the ‘Truth’ as an asset to educate and foster understanding, promoting truth-telling, truth-listening, historical acknowledgment and acceptance. We hope that the short film will inspire viewers to engage deeply with the stories and history of Indigenous Australians.

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FULL FILM COMING SOON

The journey

It’s incredible to finally share the film with others and to take a moment to reflect on the production journey. 

‘Truth’ was filmed in the historic town of Brewarrina, NSW, a place that humbles in the most profound way. Nestled around 800 km inland from Coffs Harbour in northern NSW, this town is a testament to the grandeur of nature.

The town is located amid the traditional lands of the Muruwari, Ngemba, Weilwan and Yualwarri peoples. The area has a long Indigenous Australian history and was once the meeting ground for over 5,000 people.

It boasts one of Australia’s most significant Aboriginal sites: ancient fish traps and muddy waters. These were shared and maintained for thousands of years by the Ngemba, Wonkamurra, Wailwan and Gomolaroi people.

Aunty Kathy takes us on a powerful journey of reflection and rediscovering her family roots as she re-traces her mothers steps through mission placement and her early childhood on the reserve.

Her words resonate deeply: 

“That’s why this story has to be told, because this is real. You hear it all the time. It happened 200 years ago. Get over it and move on. But how could you move on? Because all those things that happened years ago, it still affects Aboriginal people today.”

Through her personal narrative, supported by the sisters and aunties, the film explores themes of truth, resilience, and reconciliation. It provides a profound insight into Kathy’s family life and the broader Aboriginal experience.

It’s a personal encouragement and an invitation to reflect on one’s past in order to allow healing and be able to move forward. 

We are immensely proud of this film and the impact it can have on cultural awareness and reconciliation. Working with Aunty Kathy and the Brewarrina community has been a profound experience for us and something that we deeply value.

 

National Reconciliation Week, held from May 27 to June 3, is a time for all Australians to learn about shared histories, cultures, and achievements, and to explore how each of us can contribute to achieving reconciliation in Australia. The launch of Truth – Aunty Kathy’s Story aligns perfectly with the week’s mission to foster understanding and unity and we’re very proud to be part of it.

Wesley Mission is a leading Christian organisation that has been serving the Australian community for over 200 years. They are committed to providing support and advocacy for the most vulnerable, including promoting reconciliation and understanding through various programs and initiatives.

Director statement

‘Truth’ has been a profound journey for me. A journey that brought up the elements of my own heritage and past while exploring powerful stories of Australia’s First Peoples. 

Growing up in Poland, I was surrounded by the echoes of my family’s and nation’s experiences during the First and Second World War. Those stories are also filled with loss, resilience and struggle. They are driven by the need for understanding, for justice and for forgiveness. Emerging from communism, the history we learned as children in Poland has often been altered and far from the truth. The journey of reconciliation and generational trauma we carry has left an indelible mark on my identity, shaping my worldview and instilling in me a deep empathy for those who have endured suffering and displacement.

As a foreigner living in Australia, I have come to understand the parallels between my family’s history and the experiences of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. Both narratives are steeped in pain and resilience, shaped by historical injustices that continue to impact present generations. This connection, fueled by my passion for storytelling highlighting social issues and injustice, drives me to use film as a medium to amplify voices that often go unheard.

‘Truth’ is an intimate insight into Aunty Kathy’s family story, capturing the heart of Aboriginal history and the enduring impact of past injustices on present generations. This documentary seeks to contribute to the ongoing dialogue about truth-telling and reconciliation in Australia. 

In making this film, I was driven by the words that reflect the spirit of our collective journey towards reconciliation:

“We, the peoples of Australia, of many origins as we are, make a commitment to go on together in a spirit of reconciliation. We value the unique status of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples as the original owners and custodians of lands and waters. We recognise this land and its waters were settled as colonies without treaty or consent. Reaffirming the human rights of all Australians, we respect and recognise continuing customary laws, beliefs, and traditions.

Our nation must have the courage to own the truth, to heal the wounds of its past so that we can move on together at peace with ourselves. Reconciliation must live in the hearts and minds of all Australians. Many steps have been taken; many steps remain as we learn our shared histories. As we walk the journey of healing, one part of the nation apologises and expresses its sorrow and sincere regret for the injustices of the past, so the other part accepts the apologies and forgives.” 

While directing ‘Truth,’ my aim was to foster understanding and empathy, bridging gaps between diverse communities. This film is a testament to the resilience of Aboriginal families and their unwavering spirit. It is my hope that ‘Truth’ will inspire Australians to embrace our shared history, to acknowledge the past, and to commit to a future of equity and justice for all.

Production

We first heard a part of Aunty Kathy’s story during a raw and touching interview in Sydney. It left us moved, curious and questioning things.

One of our greatest hopes for ‘Truth’ is that it will spark curiosity in its viewers. We want people to delve deeper into the rich and complex history of Indigenous Australians, to ask questions, to seek understanding. We want them to seek and know the truth.

The journey took us further to Brewarrina, NSW. Filming in this historic town, with its ancient fish traps and rich cultural heritage, was both humbling and inspiring.

The natural beauty and historical significance of Brewarrina created a powerful backdrop for Aunty Kathy’s story, adding layers of depth and authenticity to the narrative. 

Travelling as a team of two, we could keep the impact and size of production VERY small and agile. We connected quickly with the family and were able to capture their raw emotion in a real and powerful way. 

This was further supported by our post-production team back in Newcastle. Through the use of new technologies such as ambisonic audio, we could create immersive sound scapes which transports the audience to these unique landscapes.

We thank Aunty Kathy and Jim from Wesley Mission for entrusting us with telling tihs story.

Acknowledgement

We pay our respects to the Traditional Owners of the lands where we work as well as across the lands we travel through. We also acknowledge Elders past, present and emerging.