Dramatically Black - The Djarn Djarns: Shake a leg

Dramatically Black - The Djarn Djarns: Shake a leg
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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In a flashback, Franky and his father are sitting on the river bank, fishing lines cast into the river. Returning to the present, the Djarn Djarns dancers are walking towards the stage with the focused gaze of seasoned professionals. Summary by Romaine Moreton

A wonderful use of music to capture the focus of the young dance group, paralleling the troupe’s high energy with a contact sport, which perhaps can be attributed to the fact that the director in his own words ‘grew up on team sports’.

This characteristic is the most wonderful aspect of The Djarn Djarns, where we see enthusiasm and pride popularly associated with sports expressed by the young character’s love of culture and dance. Given this, The Djarn Djarns is very much a comment on the state of the arts and the potential role it plays in the lives of Indigenous young people who are wanting to strengthen cultural identity.

Title Synopsis

A short drama about a group of Indigenous boys who become each other’s family following the death of Franky’s (Hunter Page) father.

Title Curator’s notes

The Djarn Djarns is about a group of four young culturally proud Indigenous boys who perform as a dance group in the local culture centre. The relationship between the boys is strengthened when the father of one of the group’s members passes away. The story takes place on the day of the anniversary of Franky’s (Hunter Page) father’s death, and deals with how the emotional turbulence of this day interrupts the group’s scheduled performance.

A comedy drama very much suited for young people, The Djarn Djarns is a dance film with a sports feel, and the possibility of young people participating in their cultural heritage is a very pertinent subject, as culture and arts are often in direct competition with sports, with the majority of communities participating in a culture of sports rather than participating in Indigenous cultural maintenance.

Director Wayne Blair, working within time and budget restrictions, managed to get brilliant performances from the young actors, generating affinity within the adolescent cast. Blair himself has acted in the following plays, CloudstreetSunshine ClubThe DreamersStuff Happens, guest performer for Bangarra’s production of Skins, and Richard Frankland’s play Conversations with the Dead. He also directed a recent production of The 7 Stages of Grieving, starring Ursula Yovich, and written by Wesley Enoch and Deborah Mailman.

First broadcast on SBS Television July 2005. This program has also screened on NITV, National Indigenous Television. The Djarn Djarns won the following awards: 2005 – Winner Berlin Film Festival, Kinderfilmfest, Crystal Bear Award Best Short Film, 2005 – Deadly award for Outstanding Achievement in Film.

Other films in the AFC Indigenous Branch drama initiative Dramatically Black are Sa Black ThingPlains EmptyGreen Bush (all 2005) and Crocodile Dreaming (2006).

Notes by Romaine Moreton

Production company:
RB Films
Kylie du Fresne
Wayne Blair
Wayne Blair
Scott Angeles, Tony Barry, Lafe Charlton, Lillian Crombie, Blake Herczeg, Ben Mazza, Kerrod Melton, Alexa Miller, Hunter Page
Produced with the assistance of the Indigenous Branch of the Australian Film Commission, the New South Wales Film and Television Office and SBS.