Over the past few weeks, racially motivated discrimination, oppression and injustice has been in the global spotlight. It’s a subject that always demands action and attention, both worldwide and within Australia. Lately, however, it’s been particularly thrust to the fore due to the Black Lives Matter movement, and protests over the death of American George Floyd at the hands of a police officer — as well as, at the local level, the ongoing fight to end the systemic mistreatment of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples by law enforcement, and to stop Indigenous Australian deaths in custody.
This isn’t a new topic. The quest to end racial prejudice and inequality isn’t new either. Centuries of history can attest to that fact beyond the current news headlines — and so can a wealth of powerful documentaries on the subject. Some recent films chart the American civil rights movement. Others explore the lives and impact of Indigenous Australian musicians. And, with examples from both categories, five such docos are now available to watch for free on YouTube for the entire month of June.
All five films are distributed by Australian company Madman Entertainment, and all have previously screened in cinemas and/or at film festivals. They’re all vital viewing, too — and, at present, doing so doesn’t involve any cost or require a subscription to a streaming platform. The documentaries are now up on Madman’s YouTube channel, as embedded into the company’s website.
Leading the bill are a trio of movies with a local angle, and with a particular interest in Indigenous music. Viewers can watch Gurrumul, the immensely moving portrait about the chart-topping late Indigenous talent from Elcho Island off the coast of Arnhem Land; then check out Murundak: Songs of Freedom, which focuses on Aboriginal protest music, specifically following The Black Arm Band and other Indigenous Australian musicians on tour; then view Westwind: Djalu’s Legacy, about Yolngu elder and master Yidaki (didgeridoo) player Djalu Gurruwiwi and his efforts to pass on his culture’s ancient Songlines.
Those docos are joined by two films that examine race and injustice in America, and prove particularly relevant to current US protests. 3 1/2 Minutes, Ten Bullets chronicles the 2012 murder of 17-year-old high school student Jordan Davis — who was shot at a Florida gas station after an argument over loud music — as well as trial that followed, and the media coverage and resulting protests also. Then there’s Raoul Peck’s potent and affecting Oscar-nominee I Am Not Your Negro, which tackles racism in America from a historical perspective. That’s conveyed through the words of novelist, poet and activist James Baldwin — words written in the mid-70s, but sadly still applicable today — with Samuel L. Jackson serving as the documentary’s narrator.
In sharing the five films, Madman is encouraging everyone to not only watch, but to learn, listen, and talk about them with friends and family. It’s also suggesting that viewers donate to support relevant causes, naming a worthy organisation — and, in some cases, multiple organisations — for each documentary.
To watch Gurrumul, I Am Not Your Negro, Murundak: Songs of Freedom, Westwind: Djalu’s Legacy and 3 1/2 Minutes, Ten Bullets for free until the end of June, head to the Madman website.
Top image: I Am Not Your Negro.
Published on June 14, 2020 by
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