One of the viewing highlights of the year so far has to be the ABC screening of First Contact a few days ago.
It’s an extraordinary documentary which includes film footage from the 1960s, when a group of aboriginal women and children living in the Great Sandy Desert first encountered white people. The film includes interviews with some of the women who had been the children and young adults depicted in the archival film footage. It also includes interviews with the filmmaker, the white man who took that footage in 1964 as he and his colleagues set out to find, gather and relocate indigenous people living in that part of the desert. The desert region was being used as a ‘dump zone’ for experimental rockets being launched at Woomera. As the women tell us in a most moving and astonishing narrative, the arrival of the white men in their truck terrorized the desert people who feared these were monsters and cannibals coming to eat them. The men of the desert fled as the strangers arrived in the desert and the remaining women and children hid and evaded their hunters for some time. They were eventually ‘found’ by the white men and relocated to a mission a long way from their home. This is one of the most powerful films. Amazing archival footage, stunning cinematography and story telling, including the narrative of the “first contact” itself, and the contemporary narrative about the return of the former desert people to their homeland, where they talk about their early life there and the white intervention.