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The ABC Is Screening (and Streaming) Two of the Best Australian Docos of 2021 for NAIDOC Week

'Firestarter — The Story of Bangarra' and 'My Name Is Gulpilil' will both be available to watch for free from this week.
By Sarah Ward
July 05, 2021
By Sarah Ward
July 05, 2021

Watching Bangarra Dance Theatre light up the stage isn't something that's easily forgotten. Seeing David Gulpilil grace the silver screen falls into that category, too. Australia's pioneering Indigenous dance company and the country's biggest acting legend have something else in common as well: they've both been the subject of excellent documentaries that've hit cinemas in 2021.

The first, Firestarter — The Story of Bangarra, steps through the titular dance company's formation, history and impact. Of course, it can't recount Bangarra's origins, evolution, aims and achievements without also telling the tale of Stephen, David and Russell Page, who've become its most famous names over the past three decades. The film that results is a potent portrait of an Aussie arts powerhouse, as well as an important history lesson about the factors that gave rise to the company — and that it continues to address through its performances.

The second movie, My Name Is Gulpilil, is a rare treasure — because it gives audiences the chance not only to look back at its namesake's now five-decade career (complete with roles in everything from Walkabout and Storm Boy to Goldstone and Cargo), but also to spend time with him as he reflects upon his life and achievements. He tells his story in his own words and, although he celebrates his successes, he doesn't overlook the struggles. Making the film all the more meaningful: the fact that director Molly Reynolds shot it while Gulpilil battled stage-four lung cancer. Thankfully, he's outlasted his initial prognosis, which allowed Reynolds to spend even longer recording his thoughts.

Both of these docos have enjoyed their slots on the big screen. Both are exceptional films, too. Now, to celebrate NAIDOC Week, the ABC is both screening and streaming them — so, whether you missed them in cinemas or you'd like to see them again, you'll be able to do so at home, and for free.

Firestarter — The Story of Bangarra screens first, airing at 8.30pm on Tuesday, July 6 and hitting ABC iView at the same time. Come Sunday, July 11, My Name Is Gulpilil will do the same. There's your viewing sorted for the week — with the ABC also showing Bangarra's Dubboo: Life of a Songman, and adding a NAIDOC Week collection of films and TV shows to iView as well.

Check out the trailers for Firestarter — The Story of Bangarra and My Name Is Gulpilil below:

Firestarter — The Story of Bangarra screens on ABC and hits ABC iView on Tuesday, July 6 — and My Name Is Gulpilil does the same on Sunday, July 11.

Top image: Firestarter — The Story of Bangarra, Daniel Boud.

Published on July 05, 2021 by Sarah Ward
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