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After Mabo

Film by John Hughes

Year: 1997, 84 mins
Code: JH-After
ISBN: 978-1-921895-13-5

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From the perspective of the National Indigenous Working Group on Native Title, After Mabo chronicles the political crisis around native title in Australia during 1996-1997 and the Indigenous response to the Howard Government's threat to human rights implicit in its proposed amendments to Australia's Native Title Act.

After Mabo was filmed during 1996 and 1997. It provides the most relevant 'snapshot' from that period of the land justice issue as it unravelled over an eighteen month period. The film dispels many of the myths about native title and exposes the real political and economic agenda behind John Howard's 'Ten Point Plan'. The documentary takes us behind the doors as Indigenous representatives attempt to fight the amendments in the media, in the bush and in the halls of Parliament House, Canberra.

After Mabo features a wide range of respected Indigenous figures including Noel Pearson, Peter Yu, Pat Dodson and filmmaker Richard Frankland, speaking first-hand about land justice and the threat that the proposed Howard Amendments had to their land and their rights.

'There are questions here at stake that are bigger than the small hearts that have concocted the 10 point scam ... as vigorously as the present government may insist on where the moral and legal pendulum should properly sit, just as vigorously, just as vehemently, just as desperately must we insist on the moral and fair compromise set out by the High Court and negotiated with the Federal Government in 1993.' - Noel Pearson, Chairman, Cape York Land Council.

Winner, Open Craft Award for Visual Design (John Hughes & Uri Mizrahi), AFI Awards 1998.
Highly Commended, Best Television Documentary, Human Rights Commission Awards, 1998.

“After Mabo is of significance because it tells the story from the truth of an Aboriginal point of view …It documents even the banality of continued effort, the hard work of cultural change but above all it demonstrates in the context of contemporary Australia (from a filmmaker who himself understands Walter Benjamin and has made one of the best films on the topic) the continued truth of so many of Benjamin's Theses on the Philosophy of History: "Only that historian will have the gift of fanning the spark of hope in the past who is firmly convinced that even the dead will not be safe from the enemy if he wins. And this enemy has not ceased to be victorious."  - Helen Grace, Screening the Past, July 2005.

 “It should be compulsory viewing for all Australians.” Paul Stewart, The Sunday Herald Sun, November 1997

John Hughes has a unique film style.He layers images and texts using a Dadaist technique to provoke a critical reading of the film.  This makes his films complex to watch because they work outside a familiar film language and do not meet our expectations.  Hughes likes to challenge the viewer on all levels.” – Catherine Gough-Brady, Dox Magazine, Winter 2009.


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