Three new short films which put culture and language front and centre in their storytelling have recently premiered at the Sydney Film Festival and aim to show the importance of telling creation stories for young First Nations people across the country.

The three new films are all from specific communities and are part of a growing collection called Stories from the Country, which is overseen by the SharingStories Foundation (SSF).

Students at St Peters Primary School in Bendigo working on costumes for shadow screen interpretations of the story of The Eagle, the Crow and the Bat. Picture: Liz Thompson

One of those films, called The Eagle, the Crow and the Bat was shown in a number of film screenings and was created by the Jarra/Djadjawurrung community with the help and narration from senior Cultural Custodians Uncle Brien Nelson and his son Uncle Rick Nelson.

The film tells the story of why the Eagle is the Lord of the Highlands, how the Crow discovered fire and protects the lowlands and how the Bat is seen as the peacekeeper. 

Children from the Meeting Place Castlemaine and St Peters Primary School in Bendigo, worked with SSF to create the animated film.  

Making of The Eagle, the Crow and the Bat from the SharingStories Foundation.

From left: SharingStories Foundation CEO Liz Thompson (Picture: Lorrie Graham) and Senior Jaara Cultural Custodian Uncle Rick Nelson (Picture: Liz Thompson).

CAAMA’s Philippe Perez spoke to SSF CEO Liz Thompson, SSF Director Education and Partnership Development and Pitta Pitta and Warluwarra woman Sharon Williams and Senior Jarra Custodian Uncle Rick Nelson who narrated The Eagle, the Crow and the Bat (audio below).

The other two films were shown on rotation in Sydney’s Pitt Street for the duration of the film festival:

The Frog and Brolga (Jirraginy Joo Goorrarndal: Frog and Brolga) from the Gija community is a Creation story that tells of an event at the Gawarre (Bungle Bungles) brought into being the plants, animals and the Gija people of the East Kimberley region, the film was directed by Gija Elder and Gawarre Traditional Owner Shirley Drill, and SSF’s Taz Miller. 

An image from the film The Frog and Brolga (Jirraginy Joo Goorrarndal: Frog and Brolga). The film was shown as part of the 2021 Sydney Film Festival in the city’s Pitt Street. Picture: SharingStories Foundation

Dunggula: The Murray River from the Bandgerang community looks at the Creation story of the Murray River, and tells the story of Biami the powerful creator and the journey of Gunyuk – the wise old lady who travelled a great distance to bring water to her people.

The film is based on a story shared by Bangerang Elder, the late Uncle Sandy Atkinson, and was directed by Irene Hamlyn with SSF’s Taz Miller and Daen Sansbury-Smith.

Each story comes with educational ebook resources and materials which are all for free and downloadable. They aim to further expand on the stories with interactive maps, incorporating drone footage. Picture: SharingStories Foundation

The Foundation aims to provide accessible ways of telling creation stories in their languages, as well localised teaching young Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people about their country and lands that they live on.

All films look to educate young people in their communities and beyond with free resources and downloadable ebook material – all films and materials are available from SSF’s website.

Feature image Still image from ‘The Eagle, the Crow and the Bat’. Picture: SharingStories Foundation