BeDevil: Water runs red
Rick climbs out of the window of the cinema and runs through the swamp. Sitting on the bed with his two sisters, he distributes the candy he has stolen from the cinema. Two white children pass by and ask the Aboriginal kids if they want to play. The rough sound of Rick’s father startles them. The shadows and sounds coming from inside the house tell us something violent is happening. The two white children peer through the fence, witnesses to the brutality that is occurring within the confines of the house. Water runs down a drainpipe. It is red with blood. The two white children ride off. Summary by Romaine Moreton.
The general theme of these scenes is the seen and the unseen, the moments of someone else’s despair that each of us involuntary witness to at one time or another. The witnessing of another’s pain in this instance, is a form of powerlessness experienced by both the children observing, and the children suffering behind closed doors. Moffatt’s use of suggestion dominates this narrative, and as a filmmaker, it is as though she is leaving plenty of gaps that we as an audience, are asked to fill on our own. As one would peruse Moffatt’s photographic work, we peruse this flim, returning to it again and again in order to glean something more from the story.
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