Nice Coloured Girls: Captains

Title:
Nice Coloured Girls: Captains
NFSA ID:
559182
Year:
1987
Category:
WARNING: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander viewers are advised that the following clip may contain images and voices of deceased persons
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An intoxicated man sways before the camera. Three Aboriginal women walk into a games parlour in seedy Kings Cross. They sit at a table and check out the other patrons. Subtitles tell us about 'Captains’ – men who can be tricked into paying for their night out. A drunken white man approaches the women and eventually takes a seat at their table, offering them cigarettes.

The tongue-in-cheek title of Tracey Moffatt’s first film positions Aboriginal women as naïve and 'nice’ but these are merely roles played by the women.

Tracey Moffatt is one of Australia’s most successful visual artists and is credited as being the first Aboriginal woman to make a feature film.

Her other audiovisual work includes Night Cries: A Rural Tragedy (1989), BeDevil (1993), Heaven (1997) and Lip (1999). Moffatt’s photographic works include Something More (1989), Scarred for Life (1994), GUAPA (Good Looking) (1995), Up in the Sky (1997), Under the Sign of Scorpio (2005), Portraits (2007) and Doomed (2007), a collaboration with Gary Hillberg. A retrospective of Tracey Moffatt’s work opened at the Museum of Contemporary Art in 2003.

Moffatt appears in the 1988 documentary Boomalli: Five Koori Artists talking about art and politics.

In 2017 Moffatt was selected to take part in the Venice Biennale with her exhibition MY HORIZON.

Summary by Romaine Moreton.

In this opening sequence of Nice Coloured Girls, Tracey Moffatt introduces the audience to the concept of 'Captains’, the men who are picked up by the three Indigenous women to fund their night out. Moffatt contextualises this sexual relationship by providing an historical insight into how Indigenous women were perceived by British men during the early colonisation of Australia. Rather than being depicted as victims, Moffatt shows how the women who knowingly exploit the men who desire their company reverse a potentially powerless position.

This clip uses footage of Kings Cross nightlife, subtitles and a painting that serves as a metaphor for the sexual relationship between white men and Indigenous women. Dialogue is largely absent, providing a space that Moffatt maximises to inform this short film with a history that – at the time of making the film – was strictly taboo and, some may argue, still is.

 

Nice Coloured Girls synopsis

This short film is about three Indigenous women and their night out at Kings Cross.

 

Nice Coloured Girls curator's notes

Nice Coloured Girls is the first film from visual artist and filmmaker Tracey Moffatt. It focuses on the sexual relations between Aboriginal women and white men, skilfully telling a story of historicity about how sexuality has played a role in the colonisation of Australia that continues into the present.

Nice Coloured Girls uses voice-over narration drawn from historic biographical accounts of white male authors about their interaction with Aboriginal women. Moffatt combines the readings with a visual depiction of modern Aboriginal women picking up 'captains’ – or white men – that they 'kid up’ to finance their night out. The narration describes an increasing awareness by Aboriginal women on how to use sexuality to win favour or extract payment from their admirers and is intercut with footage of the 'nice coloured girls’ in Kings Cross. Through juxtaposition of the voice-over and visuals, Moffatt manages to convey with simplicity historically complex phenomena about colonialism and sexuality.

Nice Coloured Girls effectively takes the taboo subject of sexual relationships between whites and Aborigines and dares to talk about the role these 'arrangements’ have played in Australian history. It does not show Aboriginal women as victims in this transaction, but instead how women have concisely exploited male desire. The tongue-in-cheek title, Nice Coloured Girls, positions Aboriginal women as being perceived as naïve and 'nice’ but, as the soundtrack suggests, these are merely roles played by the women.

Tracey Moffatt is one of Australia’s most successful visual artists and is credited as being the first Aboriginal woman to make a feature film. Moffatt prefers to be addressed as an 'artist’ rather than an 'Aboriginal artist’. Her other audiovisual work includes Night Cries: A Rural Tragedy(1989), BeDevil (1993), Heaven (1997) and Lip (1999). Moffatt’s photographic works include Something More (1989), Scarred for Life (1994), GUAPA (Good Looking) (1995), Up in the Sky (1997), Under the Sign of Scorpio (2005), Portraits (2007) and Doomed (2007), a collaboration with Gary Hillberg. A retrospective of Tracey Moffatt’s work opened at the Museum of Contemporary Art in 2003. In 2017 Moffatt was selected to take part in the Venice Biennale with her exhibition MY HORIZON.

Notes by Romaine Moreton.

Producer:
Tracey Moffatt
Director:
Tracey Moffatt
Writer:
Tracey Moffat
Cast:
Janelle Court, Fiona George, Gayle Mabo, Lindsay McCormack, Cheryl Pitt