Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Bachelor of Communications Honours


School of Communications and Media Studies


Faculty of Education and Arts


Recently there has been a significant shift in the way that Aboriginal people are being represented in Australian cinema. Some would argue that the social and political movements that have occurred since the 1960s through until today have had a significant effect and in turn have produced a third wave of Australian cinema. Concurrently with this process, there have been a number of Indigenous politicians, academics and filmmakers who have actively been striving to gain better resources and opportunities for Indigenous filmmakers to be able to tell their stories. A combination of these two projects has seen a shift in the representation of Aboriginal people: from representations produced by non-Aboriginal filmmakers, to representations that are developed and controlled by Aboriginal people and filmmakers. This thesis argues that through self-representation and input by Aboriginal people within films about Aboriginal people, narratives have shifted to place Aboriginal people and experiences at the centre of these stories. This shift is examined in terms of an anti-colonialist approach. This approach is one which tells Indigenous stories and reasserts the centrality of the Aboriginal experience, and is opposed to colonial and post-colonial approaches. Although anti-colonialism does not have a wide literature base, this thesis has used the work of Professor Marcia Langton and Linda Tuhiwai Smith to explore and develop further this concept. The concept of anti-colonialism has been applied to a number of Indigenous films that have been released for Australian cinema, and which have shown evidence of a discursive shift in discourses surrounding Aboriginality. I have also endeavoured to show that self-representation is vitally important to developing an anti-colonialist approach towards Aboriginality which reasserts the centrality of the Aboriginal experience. To explore the concept of anti-colonialism, this thesis examines and compares films from 1971 (Walkabout- Nicolas Roeg) to 2005 (The Proposition- John Hillcoat). The thesis explores the concepts of colonialism and post-colonialism in an effort to place the earlier films within context of their times. These films are broken down into two categories. The first category examines a selection of films starring the Indigenous actor, David Gulpilil. The second category examines three films directed by Aboriginal filmmakers- Rachel Perkins and Ivan Sen.