Opening Night Wrap Up – HRAFF 2018

Festival Correspondent Meg Hill gives her wrap up on Opening Night: After the Apology

ACMI was packed on Thursday night for the opening of the Human Rights Art and Film Festival’s (HRAFF) Melbourne leg. The opening of a festival implies a party atmosphere – festival staff and patrons walking around with their mouths sneaking up at the corners in constant smiles. HRAFF is different. There’s a buzz, that’s for sure, but it’s a collective feeling of readiness – a ready to confront hard truths and create change. The opening night screened ‘After the Apology’, part of the Indigenous program stream this year. In her pre-film speech Shareena Clanton warned the audience – “It won’t be comfortable”, and it wasn’t.

‘After the Apology’ is the story of the forced removal of Indigenous children that continues today. Since Kevin Rudd formally apologised in 2008 for the stolen generations of the past, the number of Indigenous children forcibly removed from their families has almost doubled. There is no way to watch this film and feel comfortable. It’s devastating, but that’s the point. Shareena Clanton’s speech made that clear when she told the audience “This is about truth telling”. For change to be made, people have to know. That’s what HRAFF is about, communicating truth and knowledge to enact change.


In a post film Q&A, director Larissa Behrendt elaborated on the importance of self-determination – a big theme within the film. Four grandmothers are the film’s protagonists, taking up their own self-determination and resistance when authorities don’t honour the basic principle of an apology – that you don’t do it again. These are stories that matter. In the words of audience members interviewed on the night “This is a film every single person in this country should see”.

Meg Hill is a passionate Journalism student from Monash University & a Journalist at Hyperlocal News.
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