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Indigenous Ceremony Preserved for Future Generations

26 October 2007

Film Australia will today launch the historically significant DVD Ceremony - The Djungguwan of Northeast Arnhem Land at the National Museum in Canberra, in celebration of UNESCO World AudioVisual Heritage Day.

Made at the request of Yolngu leaders Ceremony - The Djungguwan of Northeast Arnhem Land is a two-DVD set and accompanying website – – that brings together three films of the Djungguwan, from 1966 (directed by Roger Sandall), 1976 (directed by Ian Dunlop) and 2002 (directed by Trevor Graham). Ceremony features an introductory film, five mini-documentaries, interviews with elders, academics and the filmmakers that together provides invaluable information about the Yolngu people of northeast Arnhem Land.

The Yolngu people use various ceremonies to pass on the sacred knowledge of their ancestors. The initiation ceremony featured on the DVD aims to teach young boys about discipline, law and respect of their people.

“It is fitting that this extraordinary project is launched to mark UNESCO World Day for AudioVisual Heritage. The documentaries featured in Ceremony are a valuable part of our national history and we believe that it is important that we collect and preserve such material for future generations” said Film Australia CEO Daryl Karp.

The films are also important for the Yolngu people in helping to preserve their own ceremony and law.

“These documentaries are a powerful thing to help build self-esteem (in our community) and establish a basis for a positive future,” said clan elder Wanyubi Marika.

At the launch Film Australia will make a special presentation to UNESCO of the Ceremony DVD as well as the recently released Yirrkala Film Project - a collection of 22 extraordinary films made by Ian Dunlop with the Yolngu people over a 30-year period.

What: Launch of Ceremony - The Djungguwan of Northeast Arnhem Land
When: 12 noon, Friday 26th October 2007
Where: National Museum of Australia, Lawson Crescent, Acton Peninsula, Canberra
Interview opportunities: Wukun Wanambi (Yolngu community), Ian Dunlop (filmmaker),
Trevor Graham (filmmaker), Denise Haslem (filmmaker), Daryl Karp (Film Australia CEO)

Ceremony - The Djungguwan of Northeast Arnhem Land is a Film Australia National Interest Program in association with Denise Haslem Productions. Made in collaboration with the Yirrkala Dhanbul Community Association and the Rirratjingu Association. Executive Producer: Chris Warner. Producer/Editor Denise Haslem. Director/Writer Trevor Graham.

Film Australia is one of the nation's leading producers of television documentaries and educational programs. An Australian Government-owned company, Film Australia's mission is to create an audio-visual record of Australian life.

Media Contact: Aja Shanahan Avviso PR, 02 9368 7277,