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MIFF review: Putuparri and the Rainmakers provides rare glimpse into vanishing world

Tom Longford inherited the mantle of custodian. Photo: light corporation 2012 (c)MIFF PUTUPARRI AND THE RAINMAKERS (97 minutes) ACMI 2, August 15, 11am
Nanjing Night Net

Though director Nicole Ma started work on this documentary in 2001,  its key footage dates from 1992.

Shot on VHS, it is both degraded and priceless, an astonishing record of the vital connection between the indigenous folk of Fitzroy Crossing and a remote desert waterhole where a spirit known as Kurtal is believed to live.

Spider is the ageing custodian of this place (land rights are still in dispute), but the focus is on the 20-odd-year journey of Tom Longford towards inheriting and then passing on that mantle.

Along the way Tom – whose tribal name is Putuparri – has the battles with grog, domestic violence and dislocation that all too often seem to define the male experience in Indigenous townships, but in his journey back towards the land and ancient traditions the film maps a possible way forward.

Neither preachy nor overly reverent, this is a remarkable piece of filmmaking that makes us feel we’ve been granted the rare privilege of witnessing something utterly unique, even as it teeters on the cusp of disappearing forever.

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.

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