From Sand to Celluloid - No Way to Forget: 'Will the storms ever end?'
A hand fumbles for a box of matches on the floor of a car, lost amongst other junk. Shane Francis (David Ngoombujarra) one hand on the steering wheel, eyes fixed on the road, strikes the match with his freed hand. Flashback: a young woman (Kylie Belling) is seated by a fire. Shane Francis sits listening to her. We see the young woman struggling as two men wrestle her to the ground. She tells us how they arrested her before they raped her. The two men we see are dressed in police uniforms, behind the unfolding brutality, a police car is parked. Later, seated back in is office Shane Francis receives a phone call. The voice of the man (Joe Foster) on the other end tells him the woman has been killed, having been bashed then stabbed through the eye. Francis back in his car now driving into the morning, asks, ‘I wonder if the storm will ever end?’.
Summary by Romaine Moreton
This sequence of No Way to Forget depicts an Indigenous woman’s trauma after allegedly being raped by uniformed police officers. There are findings that suggest that the rape of Aboriginal women is not taken as seriously as the rape of white women. The Australian police force has historically been implicated in the regulation of the sexual liaisons between Indigenous females and white males which were considered illegal and immoral from early in the 20th century. The Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody was established in 1987 to investigate allegations of murder of Australian Aboriginals in prison.
No Way to Forget Synopsis
A short film that uses flashback to tell the story of Shane Francis’ (David Ngoombujarra) close encounters with the spirit and secular worlds during his work as a field officer for the Royal Commission into Deaths in Custody, haunted by the spirits of the past and tortured.
No Way to Forget Curator's Notes
At the age of 25, Richard J Frankland was employed as a senior field officer for the Royal Commission into Deaths in Custody established in 1987, and it is this experience that Frankland calls upon to compose the narrative of this story. It is a glimpse into Frankland’s experience while working for the Commission – the incredible intrusion of death into the main character’s life, the constant isolation that results from location – as well as the things he has learned.
No Way to Forget is a story told while lead character Shane Francis (David Ngoombujarra) is travelling from one town to the next, the story unfolding in flashback. The characters’ whose deaths he has had to investigate, he tells us, he gets to know well – where they were born and what they were like – and death is the intruder in his once light life. The journey of Shane Francis – a solitary car along a desolate road – externalises the isolation Francis feels as a result of having to constantly engage with death. One scene where a boy (Geoff Tye) tells him that he looked for a future and couldn’t find one powerfully sums up the emotion of the story. In No Way to Forget, like Francis, we are introduced to characters whose lives are tumultuous and chaotic and, like Francis, we should be haunted by the realities of some folk within this country, and the ever-present spirits who watch over the work we are or are not doing.
No Way To Forget won Best Short Film at the Australian Film Institute Awards in 1996 and was selected for Un Certain Regard at the 1996 Cannes International Film Festival. Frankland’s other films include Harry’s War (1999), Who Killed Malcolm Smith (1992), After Mabo (1997) and theatre production Conversations with the Dead (2002).
Notes by Romaine Moreton