Kenny puts on a cassette tape. He moves through the radio station to the sound of the music. It is a speech by Gary Foley with music playing in the background. Kenny pauses to sing the words to the Indigenous people gathered in the radio lounge area. Summary by Romaine Moreton.
A powerful moment in the film, and filmic brilliance in that writer and director Warwick Thornton uses music to convey the essence of this film. The speech made by political activist Gary Foley spoken over music lists the foremost issues experienced by Aboriginal peoples as a result of oppression. Cinematically, Foley’s speech functions as the inner voice of all those present in the radio station, and we get the sense that the people gathered in this small remote building are the living embodiment of the societal and political issues that fuel Foley’s rage.
A short film about an Indigenous radio DJ who struggles to keep his community functioning. Kenny (David Page) does the nightshift at a remote radio station, and must negotiate the nightly drama while still spinning the music.
A simple short film from writer-director Warwick Thornton based on his experience as a DJ earlier in his life. Using minimal locations, it sets out to tell a beautifully crafted story about a DJ whose job is not confined to making the music happen. Green Bush speaks of community responsibility through the central character Kenny (David Page), and makes a statement on manhood with a directness that is culturally relevant to all Indigenous communities.
According to Green Bush producer Kath Shelper, Warwick wanted to write a film that speaks of the role the media plays in Indigenous communities. The radio station then, is both a conceptual and physical gathering place that connects the community; those who are physically present, and those who are absent. The overlapping themes at the core of this film are about the community responsibility of those involved in media, and the physical accessibility of the radio station to the community members.
Green Bush won Panorama Best Short Film award at Berlin International Film Festival 2005, and at the 52nd Sydney International Film Festival it won three of the festival’s Dendy Awards for short films: Best Fiction Over 15 Minutes, The Rouben Mamoulian Award, and The SBSLanguage Services Award.
Thornton’s other directing credits include Mimi (2002), Photographic Memory: A Portrait of Mervyn Bishop (1999), Rosalie’s Journey (2003), Yeperenye Federation Festival: The Road Ahead Concert (2003). Thornton began his film career as a cinematographer and moved into directing and writing. His work captures a unique perspective on Indigenous cultural experience and storytelling. Thornton’s visual aesthetic complements his storytelling strengths, and he is an Indigenous filmmaker who will have a positive impact upon Indigenous film and filmmakers of the future.
Notes by Romaine Moreton
This clip shows scenes of an Indigenous radio station. It includes some Aboriginal people gathered around a table in the station’s lounge area, and an Indigenous DJ introducing tracks that provide the background soundtrack for the visuals. The DJ moves through the station to the sound of Aboriginal activist Gary Foley making a speech, with music in the background. The DJ repeats phrases of the speech to those in the lounge and to himself as he selects the next record. The scenes of the DJ are intercut with visuals of the group in the lounge. A new track of traditional Indigenous music accompanies the final images, which show the DJ standing in the station doorway.
Education notes provided by The Learning Federation and Education Services Australia
Kenny puts on a cassette tape. He moves through the radio station to the sound of the music. It is a speech by Gary Foley with music playing in the background. Kenny recites some of Foley’s words along with the cassette. As he walks through the radio station, he occasionally speaks some of the words aloud to the Indigenous people gathered in the radio lounge area.
Radio announcer You’re listening to Country Radio, Aboriginal radio in Aboriginal country.
Gary Foley (on tape) I’m Gary Foley and I’m a black Australian. I’m here to tell you a little bit about what’s happening to Aboriginal people in this country. Let me tell you a little bit because this is not just a night for music. It’s a night for understanding people who are oppressed and in this country it’s Aboriginal people who are oppressed. Our people have lived in this country for 50,000 years. Everything was cool until 200 years ago some bloke by the name of Captain Cook come out here. Now 800 million Aboriginal people lived and died here before any white man come to this country. When you arrived, when white man arrived in this country, he shot the blacks, poisoned their waterholes, murdered them left, right and centre, and those that were left were rounded up like dogs and cattle and stuck in these places called Aboriginal reserves, which were nothing less than concentration camps, and there they stayed until very recently. It’s only 14 years since you people gave us the vote in this country and we still have not got the land to give us economic independence. We need land rights and we need it now. It’s not good enough just to come and listen to music. If you people can afford the time to come to a Clash concert, then you can afford the time sometime soon – when Aboriginal people march in this town for their land rights – then you should be there. See you.
Kenny, radio announcer Gary Foley back in 1982 there, telling you how it is. Now here’s some traditional stuff for you mob.
As traditional Indigenous music plays Kenny ejects the Gary Foley cassette from its player, goes outside and leans against the wall.