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    Pintupi Way film event: Benny and the Dreamers

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    Event description

    In conjunction with the Drill Hall Gallery's Pintupi Way exhibition (27 October - 17 December, 2023), join us for a screening of the documentary film Benny and the Dreamers (CAAMA, 1992),the extraordinary story of the Pintupi peoples' first meeting with the white world. The film will be introduced by researcher and author Alec O'Halloran, and will be followed by a short Q&A with Alec.
    Sales of Alec's book Mick Namarari Tjapaltjarri: The master from Marnpi will be available before and after the event.

    Benny and the Dreamers introduces a small group of Pintupi people living in the Western Desert, who remember their first meetings with white men, their first impressions of the white man's world and their expectations of what that world had to offer.

    “When Mick Namarari, Benny Tjapaltjarri, Smithy Zimran and Ronnie Tjampitjinpa went to the CAAMA office in Alice Springs, the producer (Burum) understandably advised the men the story had been told before. They pointedly insisted: not by us.” (The master from Marnpi, p. 129)

    Benny and the Dreamers reveals for the first time on film the Pintupi peoples' version of their first contact with white culture, which was to change their traditional way of life. For some it was a terrifying experience, for others a bewildering view of a world which made little sense. White contact brought an end to a nomadic way of life which had lasted tens of thousands of years.

    In Benny and the Dreamers, Mick Namarari, Benny Tjapaltjarri and other Pintupi elders tell their stories of life before and after "whitefellas". Through the use of rare archival footage, their journey is recreated from the western deserts to their transition from traditional society to semi-sedentary consumers of ‘flour, tea and sugar’. Many of the men who became stockmen and many of the women who worked in domestic settings became the famed Papunya Tula artists of today.

    Through dramatic retelling of the stories, Benny and the Dreamers weaves its way into the nightmare of assimilation at Papunya in the 1960s, the killing fields of alcohol and the policy move toward self-determination. Their triumphant return to Country on outstations and the new Pintupi-led communities of Kintore and Kiwirrkura in the early 1980s completes this remarkable story.

    view trailer here: vimeo.com/584744169

    Narrator - Michael Liddle

    Producer, Director - Ivo Burum
    Executive Producers - Ivo Burum, Harry Bardwell, Phillip Batty
    Production Manager - Priscilla Collins
    Writer - Fionna Douglas
    Editor - Nicolas Lee
    Original Music - Bill Davis
    Photography - Zbigniew Friedrich, John Whitteron
    Camera Assistant - Warwick Thornton
    Sound recording - Mark Tarpey
    Additional Sound - Warwick Thornton, Leonie Dickinson, Rick Alexander, David Tranter
    Produced with the assistance of the Australian Broadcasting Corporation and the Australian Film Finance Corporation Pty Ltd

    © CAAMA Productions, 1992

    Alec O'Halloran began a journey of personal discovery and reconciliation in the mid 1990s, where curiosity about Aboriginal art morphed into a wider interest in Aboriginal culture and history. He is an independent researcher and author with a focus on Pintupi artists of Australia’s Western Desert region. He wrote and published the authorised biography Mick Namarari Tjapaltjarri: The master from Marnpi, based on his doctoral thesis at the Australian National University. He co-curated Affection, a recent exhibition of Pintupi women’s art, to celebrate Papunya Tula Artists’ 50th anniversary. Alec’s current writing focuses on Tjapaltjarri’s paintings, exhibitions and events. Alec was commissioned to prepare Namarari’s entry for the Australian Dictionary of Biography. His author memoir, The road to Marnpi, appears in the current edition of the Australian Journal of History and Biography (ANU Press). He lives in Sydney.


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