Dramatically Black - Green Bush: 'You're a good part of this'
Kenny answers a knock at the door. It is Steven. Steven asks for a smoke. There is an altercation between Kenny and Steven over Steven’s abuse of his mother Rosie. The old man tells Kenny not to participate in the violence, he’s not a part of this. Kenny says he is a part of this. The old man says he is the good part of this, and sometimes, it is better to do nothing. Summary by Romaine Moreton.
The courage of this film is that it deals with issues of transition and responsibility, rites of passage, making a direct reference to ceremonial practices where boys become men through initiation ceremonies. Perhaps one of the few Indigenous filmmakers who could make this statement, his experience taken directly from being a part of this community, Thornton states simply that abusing one’s own family means that one’s right to manhood is surrendered or at least suspended. Thornton’s work has a deepness and stillness to it, the moral of the story evoked in a gentle manner without compromising its entertainment value.
Green Bush synopsis
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.
Green Bush curator's notes
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 SBS Language 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.
Other films in the AFC Indigenous Branch drama initiative Dramatically Black are Sa Black Thing, Plains Empty, The Djarn Djarns (all 2005) and Crocodile Dreaming (2006).
Notes by Romaine Moreton