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emu runner

Emu Runner

Emu Runner (Imogen Thomas, 2018) wr. Imogen Thomas; Wayne Blair, Rhae-Kye Waites, Stella Carter, Mary Waites; TorontoIFF Sep20, AdelaideFF 14Oct18; released 7Sept2019
[Emu Runner is a lyrical story about the impact a mother's death has on an Aboriginal family living in an isolated community, which is perched on an ancient river and surrounded by sprawling plains. The story is seen through the eyes of Gem, a spirited eight-year-old girl, who deals with the grief of her mother's death by forging a bond with a wild emu, a mythical bird of her ancestors. This spiritual dreaming is a bond she will do anything to keep, but one that puts her at odds with the new social worker.]

The plot is a bit weak. It required the central character to do something in relation to her Indigeneity and running ability (think Cathy Freeman) but what she does is a bit underwhelming. However, we get the point.

The script is also a bit tepid. The Government chick's character is a bit bland, as are her lines. And Wayne Blair's big speech at the climax is not good enough to give to such a significant figure in Australian cinema to perform: 'You people ...' etc. Imogen Thomas should have got Wayne to write it himself. Not that he's not good: he always is.

Having said all that, I was nevertheless grateful for the insights that the film gives us into the lives of First People several generations after colonisation. I hope they are truthful (the insights), as they give some hope.

Eddie Cockrell:
Writer-director Imogen Thomas’s debut feature Emu Runner has and probably will play in designated family-themed strands of film festivals, and given its story of a 9-year-old Aboriginal girl who deals with grief in the wake of her mother’s death by bonding with a lone female representative of Australia’s largest native bird species, this programming strategy is to be expected. Yet adult audiences who bypass this serene and finely-detailed coming-of-age tale do so at their own risk, as Thomas has made a deep, rich meditation on family, community, country and racial tensions that strides well beyond its girl-meets-bird logline. Flightless the Dromaius novaehollandiae may be, but Emu Runner soars. Eddie Cockrell, Variety.

Garry Gillard | New: 21 November, 2019 | Now: 4 January, 2022