Kids

Through the eyes of children living in the Northern Territory, KIDS (working title) is an observational documentary that examines the ways indigenous families, often under extreme circumstances, are striving to pass on cultural knowledge. It offers a chance to view education, learning and success, in a new light.

For 7 years director, Maya Newell has been invited by Arrernte Elders in Alice Springs to make films about the empowering work they do to hold onto their culture.

KIDS focuses on education in and beyond-the-classroom, and magnifies the profound successes that are rarely captured by mainstream narratives.

“My people don’t desire to be second class citizens and drift with the currents of prescribed solutions. My people don’t desire educational failure because education is not designed for them.”
— William Tilmouth

“Everyone talks about making our children ready for school, but we have to make school ready for our children.”
Margaret Kemarre Turner, Arrente Elder

Through the eyes of children living in the Northern Territory, Kids is an observational documentary that examines the ways families, often under extreme circumstances, are striving to pass on cultural knowledge. It offers a chance to view education, learning and success, in a new light.

For 7 years director, Maya Newell has been invited by Arrernte Elders in Alice Springs to make films about the empowering work they do to hold onto their culture.

Kids focuses on education in and beyond-the-classroom, and magnifies the profound successes that are rarely captured by mainstream narratives.

Eight-year-old Makayla has a reputation in her family as the best hunter and wants to be a ranger. We follow her as she goes with her grandparents to spear crocodile, learns how to manage the land by fire and grows to relate to her family with complex kinship structures. At her two-way learning school, her teachers are also her family and teach in her first language. With their help she will master English – a skill she will need to care for her Country.

Nine-year-old Dujuan navigates two ideologically opposed education systems. At school he scores low on his NAPLAN test, but at home Dujuan’s grandfather gave him Angangkere (traditional healing powers) and Dujuan is taking his new role very seriously. His family teach him his life-long responsibility to heal the sick, but to be a skilled healer Dujuan must also learn how to control his anger, otherwise he could make others sick. At school, Dujuan’s strength and cultural identity go unnoticed by the world that surrounds him.

Offering a narrative that allows people to see learning in a new way, this film invites global audiences onto unfamiliar ground, where they can experience the value of an Aboriginal worldview and begin to understand the nuances of knowledge systems that have been passed down in an unbroken line for 60,000 years.

This is a film about belonging and becoming. An underlying problem that impacts on kids everywhere is a disconnection from identity that sustains and nourishes growth. This film asks, how can we value the strengths of the Indigenous knowledge systems and support kids to succeed as cultural leaders, as well as to be educated and literate in the western world?

“My people don't desire to be second class citizens and drift with the currents of prescribed solutions. My people don't desire educational failure because education is not designed for them.”
William Tilmouth

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