Sunday, August 05, 2007

Film Review: "Boxing Day"

Last Friday, August 4, was National Aboriginal and Islander Children’s Day.

To celebrate the event, the Adelaide City Council Reconciliation Committee and the SA Government screened Kriv Stender’s Boxing Day.

The film was completed in 2006 and is yet to obtain commercial distribution.

Lead actor Richard Green (right) puts in a stunning display as an indigenous urban ex-prisoner who, in the space of a little over an hour, has to cope with the demands of another ex-prisoner (and drug dealer), and his teenage niece and her foster parents. Green wrote the core script, although given the nature of the filming, much of the dialogue is improvised.

The portrayal of an urban indigenous experience, with its overtones of child sexual abuse by a white perpetrator, is a timely reminder that this particular evil knows no boundaries, and is certainly not the black issue that Howard and Brough have made of it by their misuse of the Little Children Are Sacred report. (The report cites many cases of abuse of Aboriginal children by non-Aboriginal perpetrators and notes that child sexual abuse occurs in all communities and all ethnic groups.)

Shot through a light blue filter, the Boxing Day is a real time concentration of confronting raw emotion. The whole 81 minutes is to all intents and purposes a single hand-held camera shot, although skillful editing hides the fact that it is a composite of some five actual shots. The effect is to physically ground the viewer in the reality of the on-screen experience.

The audience I was part of sat in prolonged contemplative silence at the end of the screening. There was just no need for comment. The film says all that needs to be said.

For more details see Realtime Arts Magazines review, and this interview with director Kriv Stenders.

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