Research Trip to Cairns and the Torres Strait

Between August and September 2016 the Menzies Centre’s British Academy Postdoctoral Fellow, Dr Peter Kilroy, conducted a research trip to Cairns and the Torres Strait Islands in Far North Queensland. His visit was timed to coincide with the biennial Winds of Zenadth Cultural Festival on Thursday Island.

Peter took the opportunity to meet with key figures in the screen media industry, including actors, directors and producers from shows like Remote Area Nurse, The Straits, Mabo, Redfern Now and Black Comedy, and organisations like UMI Arts, My Pathways, Gab Titui Cultural Centre, Torres News and NITV.

Peter’s trip also coincided with two important initiatives. The first was the launch of Screen Queensland’s three-year policy to support Aboriginal and Torres Strait screen media practitioners in key creative roles, such as writer, director and producer. This policy initiative was launched in Cairns in August and was followed by regional information sessions, including one at the Gab Titui Cultural Centre on Thursday Island. This session was hosted by Cairns-based Torres Strait actor, writer, producer and director, Aaron Fa’Aoso (Remote Area Nurse, The Straits, Black Comedy, Goldstone), and included representatives from Screen Queensland, Screen Australia, NITV and key emerging practitioners in the screen media industry locally.

The second initiative was the Cairns and Torres Strait filming of an upcoming three-part historical documentary series for ABC TV, Blue Water Empire. This is being produced by Bunya Productions, the team behind Ivan Sen’s Mystery Road and Goldstone, and Lone Star Productions, the Cairns-based production and training company founded by two of the key practitioners in Torres Strait screen media and theatre, Aaron Fa’Aoso and Jimi Bani (Remote Area Nurse, The Straits, Mabo, Black Comedy). It is being directed by Steven McGregor (My Brother Vinnie, Croker Island Exodus, Redfern Now) and is due for broadcast in late 2017.

This trip forms part of Peter’s three-year British Academy-funded project on Torres Strait film and television since the Bicentenary, Screening the Torres Strait.

Two project-related articles have also been recently published:

Kilroy, P., 2016. Screening Indigenous Australia: Space, Place and Media in Frances Calvert’s Talking Broken. Special Issue: A. R. Corseuil and E. M. de Marques, eds. New Cultural Landscapes: Australian Narratives in Literature and Film. Ilha do Desterro: A Journal of English Language, Literatures in English and Cultural Studies, 69(2), pp. 139-150.

Kilroy, P., 2016. Postcolonial Justice? Recognition, Redistribution and the ‘Mabo’ Legacy. In: G. Adair, J. Schlegel and A. Schwarz, eds. Postcolonial Justice in Australia: Reassessing the ‘Fair Go’. Trier: Wissenschaftlicher Verlag Trier, KOALAS Vol. 12, p. 17-28.