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Mabo - Life of an Island Man

Directed by Trevor Graham

Year: 2012, 87 mins
Code: UM-Mabo

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A man ahead of his time, Eddie Koiki Mabo, left an indelible legacy to the people of Australia, reshaping the landscape and opening up possibilities that many never dreamed of. Mabo - Life of An Island Man is the AFI Award winning film about the gently spoken public and private man and his inspirational triumph of justice in one of the most important developments in Australian history.

Born on Murray Island in the Torres Strait, Eddie Mabo tragically lived most of his life in exile. It was not until June 3 1992, six months after his death, that the entire island community welcomed him home, after the High Court of Australia upheld his claim that Murray Islanders held "native title" to three islands within the region - successfully challenging the notion of terra nullius, which asserted that Aborigines and Torres Strait Islanders did not have a system of legal ownership predating white settlement.

Both controversial and captivating, filmmaker Trevor Graham delves deep into the life of a devoted and passionate family man, investigating the dynamic person who would challenge the Australian socio-political climate and fight for change every step of the way, forever ensuring his place on Murray Island and in Australian history.

Dr Trevor Graham has worked as a writer, producer and director of documentary in the Australian industry for almost 30 years. His documentaries have been screened and broadcast nationally and around the world. Graham has made numerous co-productions and commissioned works for Channel 4 and the BBC (Britain), WGBH (America), ARTE (France/Germany), AVRO (Netherlands), SBS and ABC TV (Australia).

From 2005 to 2008 Graham was a documentary Commissioning Editor for at SBS TV. In 1997 Graham wrote and directed Mabo Life of an Island Man, a feature documentary about Eddie Koiki Mabo’s personal struggle for recognition of his native title rights to his home on Murray Island in the Torres Strait. The film won the Australian Film Institute Award for Best Documentary, was nominated for a Logie and won both the prestigious NSW Premier’s History Award and the NSW Premier’s Award for Best Screenplay. The film was also released theatrically in all capital cities.

Director's statement
- Mabo Life of an Island Man: "I don't believe art, literature or film-making create social change. People like Eddie Mabo do that. But I like to think that MABO - Life of an Island Man finished in 1997 has made a positive contribution towards the broad debate about indigenous rights, native title and Australian history by personalizing the story."

"A gripping story about heroism in the face of impossible odds. A classic story of a man battling The System for his rights." — The Sunday Age

Winner Best Documentary - Australian Film Institute Awards 1997

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