Ten Canoes

  • 92'
  • Australia
  • 2006
Ten Canoes is set in the Arafura Swamp in the northern point of Australia and takes the viewer along on a journey through time, to when the aboriginal population of the marshes still lived in huts, made canoes from birch bark and went out hunting goose eggs. The film was made using aboriginal actors, who act out the traditions of their people in their own language.
It was difficult to cast because the actors needed the right blood bond with their characters. The film set was crawling with crocodiles, mosquitoes and leeches. And no one knew how the canoes were made any more. Seventy-year-old photographs, taken by the anthropologist David Thomson, provided the answer. The photographs also formed the original inspiration for actor David Gulpilil and directors Rolf de Heer and Peter Djigirr to make this unique film about a world that has disappeared. But Ten Canoes is much more than a profound anthropological portrait of ‘noble savages’. From the very first scene, it is filled with risqué jokes. The narrator David Gulpilil (well-known from The Tracker) tells tales with many witticisms and asides about a young hunter who has taken a fancy to one of the wives of his elder brother. In order to get the boy back on the straight and narrow, his brother tells him a story from times gone by. Also about a boy who fell in love with his brother’s wife. A story about spears, revenge, magicians and a fat old man lusting after honey - with a wise lesson at the end. (EH)

Director
Rolf de Heer
Country of production
Australia
Production Year
2006
Festival Edition
IFFR 2007
Length
92'
Medium
35mm
Languages
English, Ganalbingu
Producers
Rolf de Heer, Julie Ryan
Production Companies
Fandango Australia, Vertigo Productions
Sales
Wild Bunch
Screenplay
Rolf de Heer
Cinematography
Ian Jones
Editor
Tania Nehme
Production Design
Beverley Freeman
Sound Design
James Currie, Tom Heuzenroeder
Music
James Currie
Cast
Crusoe Kurrdal, Jamie Gulpilil
Local Distributor
Cinemien
Website
http://tencanoes.com.au