Taxi director Tristan Houghton has returned from a week-long trip to Western Australia to film content for the Juluwarlu Group Aboriginal Corporation and work on a special project as a result of the Taxi Film Production and Oombarra Production partnership.
The project enabled Houghton to share his filmmaking skills with young people in the community to empower them to share their stories and experiences with a wider audience, and is a project with personal significance for Houghton, who is a Yindjibarndi man himself.
Taxi Film Production and Oombarra Productions joined forces last year with the intention of bringing more commercial screen projects to life through the unique lens of strong indigenous storytellers. In its first year, this intention is well and truly being realised through projects with organisations like Juluwarlu – a Yindjibarndi organisation established to record Yindjibarndi history, language and culture as told by the community’s elders, so that stories of country are passed on and the knowledge continues as a living culture.
Says Houghton: “I’ve always had a yearning to better understand my own family background, so it seemed fortuitous that the project with Juluwarlu was with people who knew my family.
“It was quite an emotional experience to begin to scratch the surface and understand what it means to be indigenous, to understand the relationship with country and begin to reconnect to it.
“There are a lot of different feelings that have come with the experience. My kids ask me about our family’s heritage and I don’t know much, which comes with some feelings of embarrassment because as someone growing up indigenous and susceptible to racism, you didn’t learn, and it can be tricky to learn later on in life.
“My Dad was my connection there and now that he’s gone it’s been hard to reconnect. This is the start of a huge journey for me, it’s been great to meet with people who knew and respected my Dad, and to give back with my skills as a filmmaker.”
Helene George who coordinated the opportunity for Houghton to travel to Western Australia for the project with Taxi Film Production and Oombarra Productions said this work is critical in ensuring Australia’s long cultural history is kept alive.
Says George: “Through the Oombarra/Taxi partnership, Tristan and I will continue to work with Juluwarlu to gain a deeper understanding of the connection to Yindjibarndi country and mentoring young people in cultural enterprise.
“Juluwarlu enables Yindjibarndi to work together as a community and family to have strong connections to country and culture.
“On country, elders teach young people culture, and the connections and stories are now being kept alive in new forms such as art and films.
“Together it gives strength in identity to live as Yindjibarndi and have confidence to find their own direction as storytellers, filmmakers, directors and artists.
“Without organisations like Juluwarlu Yindjibarndi cultural heritage at risk and therefore a part of the cultural heritage of Australia is at risk,:
The videos and stories filmed by Houghton as part of this special project will be available on the Juluwarlu website in the near future, to help communicate the stories and rich cultural history of the Yindjibarndi people.