Yankunytjatjara man takes the world stage at Berlin International Film Festival

In an historic moment at the Berlin International Film Festival, Yankunytjatjara man Derik Lynch has accepted not one, but two major awards for his groundbreaking film ‘Marungka Tjalatjunu (Dipped in Black). While Lynch and his co-writer and co-director Matthew Thorne were both awarded The Silver Bear Jury prize and the Teddy Award, Lynch made history as the first-ever Aboriginal Australian to receive the prestigious accolades.

The film, shot between Adelaide and Apatula and spoken entirely in the Yankunytjatjara language, is a docu-fiction masterpiece that explores the complexities of Anangu culture and identity in a stunning display of cinematic artistry.

Derik Lynch identifies as Yankunytjatjara, Anmertjira, Arrernte and Pertame, he is an all-round actor, singer, dancer, entertainer, writer, director and producer with a passion for screen, whose country is in the remote northwest of South Australia, in the Central Desert.

As Lynch stood proudly on the stage, his achievement was not just a triumph for himself, but for the entire Indigenous community and their ongoing fight for recognition and representation in the film industry.

The Silver Bear Jury prize is one of the festival’s top honors and is awarded by a panel of international film experts as runner-up to the Golden Bear prize. It recognizes films that stand out for their exceptional artistic and cinematic qualities, as well as their unique and compelling storytelling. The Teddy Award celebrates films with queer content, including those that explore LGBTQ themes or feature LGBTQ characters. The award was first introduced at the festival in 1987 and has since become an important platform for promoting LGBTQ visibility in the film industry.

In explaining their decision, the Jury said, “This film exposes and weaves together those tender and difficult threads of living in multiple worlds–worlds which are your own, full of loss and love, of trauma and survival–and worlds which are thrust upon you, often violent, often unrelenting, and often unforgiving. Marungka tjalatjunu navigates beautifully and eloquently an assured sense of self in body and in language, while exploring the questions of what happens when you leave your homeland, and how you return. This is a film of healing and of elegance, and the places that exist between sunrise and sunset, and dusk and dawn.”

Derik Lynch and Matthew Thorne are both flying back to Australia, more to come.