A new and significant Far South Coast film has been launched during Reconciliation Week, bringing with it timeless messages about the cultural importance of Australian Aboriginal ceremonies.
Djiringanj Elder and co-director of the 19 minute film, Uncle Warren Foster said Kuringal was a spiritually and culturally important film that spoke to the younger Indigenous generations.
"It's really important for us to keep our ceremonial dances and to pass them on to our younger ones, to teach them who they are and where they're coming from," Uncle Warren said.
Djiringanj custodian Dan Morgan said the film was important in educating people about cultural practices that took place "long before colonisation".
"I think it's important for the community to learn about the rich cultural history that once took place in the Bega Valley," Mr Morgan said.
Kuringal re-enacts the 1883 gathering of First Nations People at the top of Doctor George Mountain for a Kuringal ceremony also known as a men's initiation ceremony.
The short film includes re-enactments of the cultural dances that took place at the time, performed by the Gulaga Dancers.
During the film, historical anthropologist Dr Jason Gibson recounted how the Kuringal ceremony had been documented by one of the world's earliest anthropologists, Alfred William Howitt.
Dr Gibson went on to explain that the gathering at Dr George Mountain in 1883, had brought more than 130 Aboriginal people from neighbouring tribes together.
Dr Gibson said Howitt's documentation of the ceremony was unique to Australia's history.
"It's the first time in Australia's history that we have a detailed description of what happened at these ceremonies which makes it significant to the history of Australia," he said.
Uncle Warren said his involvement with the film had been a "good experience" for him and the "young lads" from the Gulaga Dancers.
He said the key objective of the film was to ensure the ceremonies were never "lost" and continued by the younger generations.
The involvement of the young dancers would also help them re-connect to their country, Uncle Warren said.
"It gives them a connection to the country and ocean, as well as the mountains," he said.
Uncle Warren said he was hopeful the younger generation might be inspired by the film and their cultural history.
"Hopefully the young men watching it will want to learn more about their culture," he said.
Uncle Warren said any Indigenous youth interested in learning more about their culture were welcome to reach out to him either when they see him in person or via his Facebook profile page.
"I've got a business called Yannaga Yoowaga Tours and it means walk and talk, and I can take them on a walk and teach them about culture and our connection to Yuin land."
Producer and co-director of the film Stuart Cohen from Bottlebrush Media said the film idea was first brought about by Dan Morgan who'd heard all about Howitt's documentation of the traditional ceremony.
"Dan called me up and told me this story about an academic from Melbourne, Dr Jason Gibson, who had done some deep diving into Howitt's journal writings about the men's initiation that took place in 1883 on Dr George Mountain," Mr Cohen said.
Mr Cohen said from there the movie ideas began to roll into motion, as he looked into how to put it together, including some re-enactment footage.
This led into Mr Cohen reaching out to Uncle Warren Foster from the Wallaga Lake Community, to get involved in the film.
"The film was made by myself, my colleague Murray Vanderveer and Uncle Warren, the three of us put this together," he said.
"We thought this was an important story to explain the significance that ceremony plays in the lives of Aboriginal people today."
Mr Cohen said Uncle Warren's involvement in the film had been pivotal to its overall message and influence.
"Warren has really been at the forefront of encouraging young Aboriginal boys to engage in ceremony and culture, for their cultural and spiritual benefit," he said.
Mr Cohen said the film's goal was to help Uncle Warren tell this story in a creative and meaningful way.
"I said to Warren at the very beginning, it's not me making this film, I'm really just the guy with the camera, you're the person with the story," he said.
"So we really encouraged all of them to put forward ideas and thoughts about how we could illustrate this."
Mr Cohen said the project was made possible by funding from South East Local Land Services who commissioned the film.
Mr Cohen said he hoped the film would be shared on a large scale, to help educate and inform people about the significance of Indigenous cultural ceremonies.
"I think it's a really important message for everybody to understand as these ceremonies took places for thousands of years and we need to acknowledge that," he said.
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