BeDevil: The flip side

BeDevil: The flip side
Tracey Moffatt and Roslyn Oxley Gallery
WARNING: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander viewers are advised that the following program may contain images and/or audio of deceased persons
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A young boy is suddenly awoken from his sleep. Before him stand two spirits, a man and a woman. They clasp hands, and disappear through the wall of the boy’s bedroom. The boy follows them. They are the spirit of the couple who died in the warehouse when it caught fire. The boy enters the condemned warehouse where, bathed in red, the spirits of the dead couple dance. The boy, wearing rollerskates, begins to dance with them. He turns and flips, circling the spirit couple who dance as though oblivious to his presence. Summary by Romaine Moreton.

BeDevil deals with the co-existence of narratives, of stories that run alongside, below and atop each other. They are the stories of present and past, and the ghost stories in BeDevil represent the presence of those who have passed, and how they haunt those who exist in the now. The boy in the final third of BeDevil seems to join the story, to become part of the 'spirit narrative’ so to speak. He becomes part of it by no longer ignoring it, but affirming its existence, and we get a sense that in doing so, he affirms his own place, his own existence.

BeDevil synopsis

BeDevil, a trilogy of ghost stories, uses myth interwoven with living memory to evoke a sense of place. Told in three parts – 'Mr Chuck’, 'Choo Choo Choo Choo’, and 'Lovin’ The Spin I’m In’ – BeDevil exposes the blurred boundaries between the imagined and the real in constructing landscapes and a sense of belonging.

BeDevil curator's notes

The most challenging aspect of this film is also its strength.BeDevil challenges the linear time frame of Western storytelling in order to suggest the ongoing presence of entities interwoven throughout the landscape that supersede all human characters and players. Perhaps alluding to Indigenous Dreaming stories, BeDevil interrupts Western film reading tradition and as a result may alienate potential audiences.BeDevil polarised critics – some saying it is a failure, others a cinematic masterpiece.

Moffatt is credited as being the first Aboriginal woman to make a feature film, and the style of BeDevil is reminiscent of her short film Night Cries – A Rural Tragedy. Moffatt prefers to be addressed as an 'artist’ rather than an 'Aboriginal artist’. Moffatt’s other audiovisual work includes Heaven (1997), Lip (1999), Nice Coloured Girls (1987), and Night Cries (1990).

Notes by Romaine Moreton

Production company:
Anthony Buckley Films
Carol Hughes, Anthony Buckley
Tracey Moffatt
Tracey Moffatt