Morning Star is the sequel to 2017’s Westwind: Djalu’s Legacy. We pick up with the Gurruwiwi family, Larry Gurruwiwi is now a custodian of Galpu traditions and songlines. His ageing father, Djalu, a master yidaki player & Elder, devoted his life to maintaining songline customs. He believes the sound of the yidaki is a bridge between cultures. He has encouraged his sons, Larry, Vernon & Jason, to travel to Europe and continue to share their clan’s songlines.
Taking up his father’s cause and becoming a steward of the knowledge is a heavy responsibility for Larry, one which is compounded by the fact he has only recently recovered from depression.
Through their travels they play to many a captivated audience, performing across England, Wales, Prague and France culminating with a show at the famed WOMAD UK. Stop by stop, they gather proof that the power of songlines is alive & well, a message they can take home to Arnhem Land.
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A short summary of the issue the documentary is addressing
This film will tackle generational disinterest in the practice & preservation of sacred traditions of Yolngu people. Djalu succeeded in engaging the next generation to keep the tribe’s rituals alive, and now the baton is squarely in his son, Larry’s, hands as he steps up to the role of custodian. This film will support Larry in his quest to engage the next generation & show his people that the old and new world can coexist harmoniously, and that their culture is globally celebrated.
Indigenous health and traditional healing practices will also be a focus, this film will endeavour to shift attitudes towards traditional healing by exploring the benefits of traditional vibrational sound ceremonies through medical research. Depression and anxiety are prevalent in Arnhem Land, and plagues the wider Indigenous community. This film will explore Larry’s recovery as a means to empower his community to take the stigma out of talking about mental health issues.
What is the impact vision statement of the documentary?
We want our film to create a sense of pride in the Yolngu people, and inspire the next generation to want to keep their traditions alive and re-evaluate the power and relevance of Indigenous culture not only in Australia, but globally. Through this film we want to reach audiences worldwide to educate them on Indigenous culture and share the challenges and successes of keeping the world’s oldest surviving culture alive and unbroken through the generations.
What outcomes does the project hope to achieve from making this documentary?
Short term, we want this documentary to encourage audiences to come away with a broader understanding of Indigenous traditions, culture and Galpu healing practices.
Medium term, we hope that Larry and his brothers feel validated and supported in their roles as ambassadors for Yolngu culture, and will continue to proudly share their songlines, knowledge and healing techniques with the world. We also want audiences to re-evaluate the power and relevance of Indigenous culture in Australia; and we will participate in medical research to quantify the effects of the yidaki vibrational sound, working with medical researchers to publish the findings.
Long term, we want Larry to inspire his sons to continue the generational passing down of knowledge, and for this knowledge to be available to the youth of Arnhem Land. We also hope that through the medical research, there will be more integration of Indigenous healing practices into Western medical practices.
How will this documentary achieve its outcomes?
Secure film distribution to reach international markets and measure the influence of the film by reviewing ticket sales data, DVD sales, and streaming/network pick up. Engage a PR firm to ensure media pick up in national and international markets. Track media value to measure impact.
Secure national & international festival screenings, artist talks & cultural screenings. Impact can be measured by how the film is received critically and by audience attendance.
Work with the Yolngu community to arrange special screenings, including but not limited to Garma Festival and Mulka Media Arts Center.
Maintain communication with Hammersmith Hospital and help facilitate further studies to measure impact of medical research and study other areas vibrational sound can positively impact health.
We will create a curriculum appropriate study guide and engage an impact producer to focus on getting the film into classrooms nationwide.
How will partnerships with this project help inform the project development?
Due to the success of Westwind, we have pre-existing relationships with the local community in Arnhem Land including the Gurruwiwi family, which is informing the story of the film. Garma Festival, which is geared toward the corporate world, screened Westwind in 2019, sharing Galpu songlines with attendees of the event. This exposure helped us with not only sharing Djalu and Larry’s message but has facilitated discussions for private investment opportunities to support this project.
Our goal to record Djalu and Larry’s stories for future generations can be achieved through our relationship with the Mulka Community Arts Center. They have archived and translated footage of Djalu’s stories from the Westwind shoot which are accessible to the community, and we will continue to record, translate and archive these stories for this project.
The festivals and organisers who have booked Malawurr (WOMAD, Rêve de l’Aboriginè, Small World Theatre and Ondrej Smeykal) are supportive of the artists.
Audience Engagement and Social Impact
What actions does this project hope for its viewers after seeing this film?
1. Spread understand that Indigenous culture is deeply sophisticated, with practices that are highly relevant to modern struggles.
2. Share what you’ve learnt about Yolngu culture on social media – get this knowledge out there. Let’s celebrate this rich and vibrant culture! Tag Malawurr and Larry Gurruwiwi – let them know you care about their message and their culture. This will encourage them to keep going, and it will have a trickle down effect on the next generation.
3. The film will work help Larry Gurruwiwi with his career as a touring and recording musical artist.
4. Help us get this documentary in front of students in both western classrooms and Indigenous communities.
Measurement and Evaluation
What is the projects indicators for success?
Ultimately our key indicators for success will be checking in with the Gurruwiwi's and their community to see how Larry is handling being the custodian and to see whether he is inspiring his children to want to follow in his footsteps. We will do this by conducting interviews on a 6 monthly basis by phone or in person.
By recording the songlines and stories told by Djalu and Larry, we can ensure that they will be archived and be accessible at the Mulka Arts Centre for generations to come to explore their own culture in a contemporary way.
We will measure the impact of the medical research in partnership with the Hammersmith hospital, by participation in studies around the benefits of the yidaki vibrational sound.