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DIFF Program Launch

The hotly anticipated program for September's Darwin International Film Festival (DIFF) will be launched with Warwick Thornton’s irrepressible new doco We Don’t Need A Map.

The very personal film-essay examines the deeper meaning behind the symbol of the Southern Cross – whose contemporary incarnation is often as fuzzy blue ink beneath the skin of a sunburnt bicep.

In 2010 Thornton dared to question the nationalist overtones of the Southern Cross, which was appearing on tattoos and bumper stickers across the country post-Cronulla riots.

“I was up for Australian of the Year and a journo asked me ‘what are your fears for the future of Australia’,” Thornton recalls.

“I said, ‘I’m worried that the Southern Cross has been slowly turned into some sort of swastika’.”

As seems to happen in Australia when someone calls out racism, “a lot of people chucked a tantrum,” says Thornton.

“A lot of people who get paid to be racist wrote little bits about it and it kind of scared the hell out of me. What I do with fear is I turn it into anger, and what I do with anger is I turn it into energy and then I need to stand up and say something.”

In the film We Don’t Need A Map Thornton leads viewers through the many different cultural understandings of the five sacred stars.

“There’s so many different Aboriginal languages and cultures in Australia, extremely multicultural pre colonisation. What’s our mob’s perspective? What’s the saltwater, Yolngu perspective on the Southern Cross. What do they use it for?”

The journey, which took him around the continent including the Top End as well as home in Central Australia, helped him resolve the issue of the icon somewhat, he says.

“You can’t own it, you can’t (use it to) shut down everyone else around you. And even Aboriginal people know that we aren’t the only people to see it. You can see it in New Zealand, in Patagonia. And there are Indigenous people in these places who have their own perspective of it.”

DIFF Program Launch and We Don't Need A Map | Thu 24 Aug | 7.30pm | Deckchair Cinema

See the event listing.

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