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Production   /  Andrew Pike


A Japanese student is tasked by Gurindji Elders in the Northern Territory to take their story to the world.


Impact areas





  • DIRECTOR Andrew Pike and Ann McGrath

  • PRODUCER Andrew Pike



A young Japanese student, Minoru Hokari, was driven by a dream to come to Australia and study Aboriginal culture and history first-hand. In his short life-time, before his death in 2004 at the age of 33, Minoru achieved work of lasting value which commands an ever-widening audience. Minoru was inspired by the historic Wave Hill Walk-off in 1966 when Gurindji workers on the Wave Hill cattle station in the Northern Territory walked off in protest against conditions there. The strike became a watershed event in the fight for Aboriginal land rights.

“Japarta” was the “skin name” given by the Gurindji to Minoru. Our film is the story of Minoru’s work with the Gurindji, and how, in Gurindji terms, he was called by the land to help the Gurindji take their story to an international audience. To honour his relationship, Minoru spent many months studying with the Gurindji, wrote a PhD thesis and an influential book about Gurindji history and culture, published in both Japanese and English.

Support this project

36.20% funded
  • $125,000.00

  • $45,250.00

  • 31st July 2022

  • 2

Minimum amount is $ Maximum amount is $





Merrilyn Fitzpatrick $250.00
Screen Canberra (offline donation) $45,000.00

Issue Summary

A short summary of the issue the documentary is addressing

JAPARTA is essentially about the promotion of cross-cultural understanding: how Gurindji Elders tasked a Japanese student to relay their story to a wider world. Minoru Hokari told their story in Japanese in a best-selling book, which was published in English after his death as Gurindji Journey. Our film further extends Minoru’s work in telling his personal story and outlining his relationship with the Gurindji, as a means of expanding the audience reach of his work – especially in Australia and Japan, and world-wide, through the medium of film and television.

Our film is the work of two historians who previously made the award-winning MESSAGE FROM MUNGO, and are working on the new film with Gurindji historian and artist, Brenda Croft. As with the Mungo film, community consultation is an essential part of the production process, and the film will be completed with the approval of Gurindji Elders as a vehicle for the telling of an important aspect of their history.


What is the impact vision statement of the documentary?

Minoru Hokari was tasked by Gurindji Elders to take their unique view of history and country to a wider world. Minoru died prematurely in 2004 at the age of 33 after publishing an influential book in Japanese about the Gurindji world-view. Our film will continue Minoru’s work, with the support of his family and Gurindji representatives, to extend the audience internationally through film and television for the Gurindji story as told by Minoru.


What outcomes does the project hope to achieve from making this documentary?

The most important goals for us with this film are to achieve wider exposure for the unique views of history, culture and country held by the Gurindji people, and to honour the memory of Minoru Hokari. Minoru achieved a great deal in the limited time that he had, and expressed the Gurindji world-view with integrity, sensitivity and empathy. He is a hard act to follow, but in consultation with our Gurindji collaborators and advisers, we hope to continue with a deep respect for Minoru’s aspirations and for his Gurindji mentors. By providing educational resources for the Gurindji story that have on-going relevance, and by bringing new audiences to Minoru’s work, we hope to make an approved and appropriate contribution to the future security of Gurindji culture.


How will this documentary achieve its outcomes?

JAPARTA is driven by memory – both as a narrative device and as a dominant theme. Central to the film is Gurindji history and culture, and the vulnerability of the community’s collective memory. As a narrative device, our portrait of Minoru will emerge from the memories of Minoru’s family and friends in Japan and Australia. Minoru himself will be represented through his written words, his audio-recordings of field notes, and through an abundance of still photographs. The stories told by his family and friends, his teachers and his publisher, reveal Minoru to be a charismatic and engaging figure who even at second-hand has the power to draw audiences into his narrative. He was a brilliant student - a rebel and an eccentric even at primary school. He was an innovative thinker who was driven by his vision, and a scholar committed to the task that the Gurindji had assigned to him, to take their story to a wider world. Our film will give an on-going voice to this remarkable man.


How will partnerships with this project help inform the project development?

The production of the film has been facilitated by a grant from the Japan Foundation which enabled the filmmakers to film in Japan - both in Tokyo and in Minoru’s home city of Niigata. Funding from Ronin Films facilitated shooting in Gurindji country in the Northern Territory. The film is also benefitting from an association with Professor Ann McGrath’s prominence in the Indigenous history domain at the Australian National University.

Audience Engagement and Social Impact

What actions does this project hope for its viewers after seeing this film?

Our intention is that this film will help to open up the subject of Gurindji history and culture. Our further hope is that the film will help to promote respect for the Indigenous cultures of Australia, stimulating empathy in the film’s viewers and promoting further research and study. We also hope that Minoru’s often unorthodox methods as a scholar will inspire other students to follow their dreams and venture into the world both to learn and to give back to communities they encounter, as Minoru did. We see the film as open-ended and we hope a trigger for intellectual curiosity and community engagement.

Measurement and Evaluation

What is the projects indicators for success?

The beauty of the education market is that audiences are renewed annually as new students enter the system, and graduates enter the world. We will have succeeded if the film has a long life with a broadcaster like National Indigenous Television in Australia, and continues to attract sales and screenings worldwide and into the future. We are approaching the film as anything but ephemeral entertainment: we expect, and will work to achieve, longevity for the film in the public arena, in communities and in education.