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Beck Cole on Indigenous stories

By Sista Girl Productions, 2009 3:11 minutes

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Beck Cole uses an observational style of filmmaking in her dramas as well as her documentaries. This style creates an interesting and intimate connection with the lives being depicted. As well as being concerned with telling stories that look and feel real, Cole is particularly interested in creating strong roles for Aboriginal women. Her short film Plains Empty tells the story of an Aboriginal woman left alone in a remote mining community, and it is informed by Cole’s careful observation of the landscape and community in which the film is set.

Collection Blak Wave

Discussion Points

In Flat, Cole’s first drama, much of the story is presented from the point of view of the sister, who has been given a video camera.

  • What is the effect of filming from the point of view of a character? How does this affect the way in which the viewer of the film is positioned?
  • Why might Cole have chosen this way of telling the sister’s story?

Wirriya, which translates from the Warlpiri language as ‘small boy’, is a powerful documentary that presents a day in the life of seven-year-old Ricco Japaljarri Martin.

It was filmed over two months with a MiniDV camera and a crew of only two, to allow greater intimacy with the subject. We observe Ricco as he moves between his home with his foster mother on the outskirts of Alice Springs, his school, the library, the pool and the shops.

  • When Cole describes Ricco talking about his dogs, she stresses that he is ‘telling us’ about them. Why is this distinction so important?
  • What does this small change of emphasis reveal about Cole’s filmmaking?

In her dramas as well as her documentaries, Cole demonstrates her interest in observing people’s lives and the places where these lives are lived.

  • Why is a sense of place and community so important for creating a connection with a character?