Film 'Emu Runner' explores Australian Indigenous cultures and respecting differences

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New Film 'Emu Runner' explores Australian Indigenous cultures and respecting differences.

Imogen Thomas talks to David Peck talk about her new film Emu Runner, a story about a young Indigenous girl, her father and an emu.

Seeing the world through the eyes of a child is something most of us can relate to. Didn’t we all used to step into our experience with a sense of mystery and wonder as we began our young search for meaning of various kinds? In a time where an us and them mentality seems to be taking global precedence, this is a story about respecting difference. It explores the underlying racial tensions in regional Australia and the importance of traditional customs in modern Indigenous culture - something that many of us in this global village can relate to on a variety of levels.

Emu Runner is a story about a nine-year-old Indigenous girl, Gem Daniels, who lives in a remote Australian town. As she copes with her mother's unexpected death, Gem finds solace in the company of a wild emu, unwittingly connecting with her mother’s traditional totem animal. Gem’s obsessive attachment to the emu leads her down a troubled path as she feeds it her school lunches and begins to steal extra food for it. In nature the male emu takes on the role of rearing the chicks.

With the death of his wife, Gem's father Jay Jay is left to raise Gem, her 15-year old sister Valerie and her 17-year-old brother Ecka on his own. Emu Runner is as much Jay Jay Daniels’ story as it is Gem's. Not only does Jay Jay face prejudices from the white community in the town, he also has to prove himself to his Indigenous family and friends, who have little confidence in his ability as a sole parent. Jay Jay is driven by a dogged determination as he strives to nurture and protect his children.

Director Imogen Thomas writes, "I believe story-telling offers an accessible way to shine the spotlight on this pressing issue, hopefully creating a greater awareness and understanding about the profound impact loss and grief has on others. Stories have the power to engage audiences on so many levels, touching their hearts and minds and by transporting them into the worlds and lives of people that are often far from their experience. It has been a privilege to create a story in partnership with the Brewarrina Indigenous community."

About the director - Imogen Thomas - Emu Runner is her first narrative feature-length film. She has a Master of Fine Arts degree from the Tisch School of Arts graduate film program at New York University and holds a First-Class Bachelor of Arts Honours degree in Drama from Flinders University in South Australia. It was here that Imogen began making short films, many of which have been screened at festivals and have received awards, including Best Narrative Drama at the 11th Adelaide Film Festival for Departure. Imogen’s  film, Mixed Bag, premiered at the Montreal Film Festival in 2008 and went on to be screened at both national and international festivals. It received the Gold Award at the Australian Cinematographer's Society Awards 2008 as well as being a finalist for the Wasserman and King Award, First Run Film Festival 2009, NYC.

Image Copyright: Imogen Thomas. Used with permission.

Face2Face is produced by David Peck. For more information on his podcasting, writing and public speaking please visit his site here.

With thanks to producer Josh Snethlage and Mixed Media Sound.

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