Jila – Painted Waters of the Sandy Desert


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A story about land ownership, artistic collaboration and the creation of a huge painting of great significance…

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The Ngurrara people know their desert country – it’s where they grew up. But to claim their native title they need to show their knowledge and ownership of the land in a way that makes sense to them and the visiting Native Title Tribunal. They decide to paint their country – on a massive scale. Seventy artists set to work on a specially made canvas measuring eight by ten metres.

The richness, complexity and energy of desert life are intertwined with this creative process and the story of the Ngurrara Native Title claim itself. The film culminates in the painting’s first journey to Canberra. It goes on display while adults and children sing and dance around it in celebration of their country and in anticipation of claiming it back.

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