Nyoongar knowledge and Western science comes together

May 27, 2015

SynergiesA new documentary premiering on WA Day takes its audience through a 300 million year journey, celebrating the remarkable similarities between Nyoongar knowledge and Western science.

Synergies: Walking Together – Belonging to Country (Djena Koorliny Danjoo Boodjar-ang) is directed by Murdoch University’s Dr Glen Stasiuk and is a joint collaboration between Murdoch University and Edith Cowan University.

Dr Stasiuk said the documentary tells the story of Nyoongar land and features ECU’s Elder in Residence Dr Noel Nannup and world-renowned expert in local flora and fauna, Professor Stephen Hopper from the University of Western Australia as they walk the Swan River from its source, all the way to the ocean.

“During the film both men share knowledge of ancient and modern flora, fauna and land use as they walk by the magnificent Swan River,” Dr Stasiuk said.

“Representing old ways and new ways on film has presented many challenges, which we enjoyed confronting.

“Humanity’s oldest and core expressive medium is story and the human journey through time is the most interesting story of all.

“For Nyoongar people the human story long predates the evolution of humans and we were able to represent this paradox using a rich mix of animation, art and music.”

Dr Francesca Robertson, Executive Producer and Senior Research Fellow with ECU’s Kurongkurl Katitjin, Centre for Indigenous Australian Education and Research, said the research looked for similarities between the Nyoongar boodja creation and the climatic, geologic and archaeological history of the land.

“Nyoongar creation stories tell of the formation of the southwest corner of Western Australia, of the people and how they adapted to significant climate change,” she said.

“Some similarities between the Nyoongar and science stories were anticipated, particularly in the last 50,000 years, however, the synergies of the earlier eras beginning 300 million years ago are astonishing.”

Dr Robertson originally took the film concept to Lotterywest who provided the funding, and then approached Murdoch’s School of Arts Screen and Sound team to create the film which was produced by actress and writer Irma Woods (Bran Nue Dae, Her Party, Mad Bastards).

Making up the Murdoch Screen and Sound team were John McMullan (Editor), Damian Fasolo (Director of Photography), Leo Murray (Sound) and Nathan Mewett (Gaff and Key Grip).

The 40 minute documentary film will premiere on WA Day on Monday, June 1 at the State Theatre Centre of WA, 174 – 176 William Street, Perth. Two screenings at 12.45pm and 2.45pm will be followed by a Q & A with the filmmakers.

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