First 10 minutes from my Groote documentary. See the entire video on my Web site: http://www.stefansargent.com/archives.html - go to the 1968 line.
Script and direction: Stefan Sargent. Camera: Keith Gow. Sound Rosemary Barton, Producer: Richard Mason.
1968 for The Commonwealth Film Unit (now Film Australia).
A look at the influence of the manganese industry on the lives of the Aboriginal people of Groote Eylandt.
This award-winning film was designed to show how the Aboriginal people of Groote Eylandt in the Gulf of Carpentaria adjusted to the new life brought about by the discovery of manganese on their land. The director and writer of the film described it as a fragmented collage of images and sounds, intended to produce a direct emotional response. The result is a flood of images, some of them flicking past almost too quickly to be grasped, others repeated over and over again to induce special effects.
The Change at Groote is 'experimental' in its editing techniques and its 'very 60s' camera operation, montage and sound design. It delivers a critical argument about development, questioning the real value for Aboriginal people affected by mining for manganese at Groote Eylandt. It does this by the juxtaposition of startling, metaphorical images, fragments of interviews, and savage sound cuts, without an explicit narration advocating an argument.
In the words of its first catalogue entry, The Change at Groote was designed to show how the Aboriginal people of Groote Eylandt in the Gulf of Carpentaria are adjusting to the new life brought about by the discovery of manganese on Groote Eylandt, but the film is also revealing of white attitudes and responses to the Aboriginal way of life. Stefan Sargent, the director and writer of the film, described it as a study of a complete cultural revolution in less than a generation.
The Change at Groote was begun in 1967, the year of the Aboriginal Referendum which, by a great majority, changed the Australian constitution to include Aboriginals in the Census, and enabled the Commonwealth government to legislate with regard to Aboriginal people.
The film was awarded the 1968 Australian Film Institute Gold Award for both the adventurous filmmaking strategies and for the sentiments it evoked. Stefan Sargent also won The Australian Film Editor's Guild award for Best Editing.