2000, 75 Minutes
Where black Americans turned to the blues, Aboriginal Australians found inspiration in country and western and created a style of their own. From the bush to the city, Aboriginal people have used country music to tell their stories of life and the struggle for justice. Songs like "Gurindji Blues", "Blue Gums Calling Me Back Home" and "My Brown Skin Baby" give voice to their aspirations, their connection to the land, their fight for land rights and equality, and the heartbreak of children being taken from their families. As singer-songwriter Bob Randall puts it, the music offers a "way of release" for artist and audience alike.
Buried Country traces six decades of this rich cultural tradition. It uses rare recordings and archival images, and first-hand interviews with singers and songwriters from Jimmy Little, the first Aboriginal artist to achieve mainstream success, to contemporary country music star Troy Cassar-Daley. The film recalls nearly forgotten string bands that played at outback dances at the turn of the century, the sideshow acts and novelty tunes on radio and in Australian movies of the 1930s, and the chart-topping achievements of world boxing champion Lionel Rose in the late 1960s.
Although the talents of many other artists went unrecognised for years, Aboriginal country performers did gradually make their mark, paving the way for the strong Indigenous Australian presence on today's arts and music scene. In Buried Country, artists such as Vic Simms, Auriel Andrew, Roger Knox, Bobby McLeod and Wilga Williams talk frankly and movingly about the challenge of performing, the discrimination they faced, the support they received and the importance of the music.
The result is a poignant record of indigenous Australia and a celebration of how music can lift the human spirit.
A Film Australia National Interest Program. Produced in association with SBS Independent. © 2011 National Film and Sound Archive of Australia.
Producer: Liz Watts
Director: Andy Nehl
Writers: Clinton Walker, Andy Nehl
Cinematographer: Warwick Thornton
Running Time: 75 Minutes
Featured People: Auriel Andrew, Kev Carmody, Troy Cassar-Daley, Roger Knox, Jimmy Little, Bobby McLeod, Bobby Randall, Vic Simms, Wilga Williams
Classification: Exempt from classification
Curriculum Links: NSW Aboriginal Studies Stages 4, 5 and 6; Music; Music, Culture and Society; Australian Curriculum English K-10: Australian insights into Aboriginal experiences in Australia; Indigenous Studies; Performing Arts.
Web Links: www.buriedcountry.com.au