Austrália dividida está em "Geração Roubada", destaque da Mostra



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Folha - O que a população local pensa sobre o assunto hoje?

Noyce - Criaram-se comissões de inquéritos para investigar o assunto e delas surgiu o começo do processo de cura para esses crimes. A maioria dos australianos já aceitou que houve um genocídio, uma tentativa de destruir a cultura aborígene. Mas há ainda uma minoria que insiste na negação --e é apoiada pelo governo atual.

Folha - Esse tipo de segregação ainda acontece nos dias atuais?

Noyce - Não, mas os efeitos dessas políticas ainda são sentidos. Há que se colar os pedaços dessas vidas e isso vai levar gerações.

Folha - Qual sua expectativa de o filme ser exibido no Brasil?

Noyce - Será interessante ver a reação das pessoas. Tudo o que conheço do seu país vem de "Cidade de Deus" e dos filmes de Hector Babenco. Meus filmes de Hollywood fizeram sucesso no Brasil, como "O Colecionador de Ossos", mas é a primeira vez que um filme australiano meu será apresentado aí. É minha libertação da cela de Hollywood.

Folha - Como assim?

Noyce - Foi o que me fez notar que não preciso desses blockbusters. Posso fazer salsichas ou filmes assim, em que o cinema trata de nossas próprias histórias. Foi ótimo ter participado do debate criado pela controvérsia de "Geração", em vez de passar anos como soldado-raso de Hollywood.

Folha - Mas o sr. está de volta a Hollywood...

Noyce - Sim, mas estou fazendo um cinema diferente, tentando fazer "Geração Roubada" dentro do sistema hollywoodiano.

Folha - E isso é possível?

Noyce - Ainda estou tentando, só espero que funcione [risos].

Folha - O sr. está trabalhando em algum novo projeto?

Noyce - Estou analisando três roteiros: "American Pastoral" é a adaptação de um romance de Philip Roth, "Picky", uma biografia sobre o explorador Thor Heyerdahl (1914-2002), e "Dirt Music", uma história de amor.

O filme mostra a separação forçada de crianças nativas de suas famílias, sendo levadas para supostas instituições educacionais onde eram ensinadas a ler, mas também a negar a própria cultura.

A grande força do filme é colocar sua ênfase não nessas casas de "reeducação" e sim em três meninas, as irmãs Molly (Everlyn Sampi) e Daisy Craig (Tianna Sansbury) e sua prima Gracie (Laura Monaghan).

Lideradas pela intrépida Molly, que contava apenas 14 anos em 1931, data dos fatos, o trio empreende uma fuga espetacular, percorrendo cerca de 2.500 quilômetros para voltar para casa, no norte da Austrália.

Uma façanha respeitável, dado que as meninas estavam a pé, sem água ou comida, num ambiente árido, procuradas pelas autoridades e contando como orientação basicamente seguir uma enorme cerca (a "rabbit-proof fence", ou cerca para proteção contra coelhos, que dividia o país de norte a sul).

A fantástica aventura das meninas foi contada no livro escrito por Doris Pilkington Garimara, uma das filhas de Molly. Personagens verdadeiras e ainda vivas, octogenárias, as meninas são mostradas no final do filme.

Indomável, Molly foi recapturada aos 24 anos, quando já tinha duas filhas, mas voltou a fugir pela segunda vez levando a filha menor, Annabelle.

Annabelle, por sua vez, foi retirada da guarda da mãe aos 3 anos de idade e perdeu contato com a família. Graças ao filme de Noyce, ela acaba de ser reencontrada.


O mais novo trabalho do diretor Australiano Phillip Noyce (que fez O Americano Tranqüilo), é Geração Roubada, a história é verídica, da época em que o Estado australiano roubava crianças de tribos aborígines para trabalharem em serviços domésticos dentro de lares no país no período de 1880 até 1960. O filme relata bem o absurdo que acontecia no país e que até hoje muitos australianos nem gostam de falar no assunto por sentirem-se envergonhados em relação ao mundo. Além da história a fotografia que o Noyce conseguiu retratar no filme é deslumbrante, a Austrália é um país que naturalmente é belo por natureza, o que contribuiu mais para ofuscar nossos olhos, com uma trilha mais envolvente. A última cena em que aparecem as duas protagonistas do filme anos mais tarde, confesso que me emocionei pelo impacto transmitido pelo diretor.

Logo após a exibição do filme para a imprensa houve uma coletiva com o próprio diretor, que falou sobre o filme e seus próximos projetos. O projeto de levar Geração Roubada para os cinemas começou com a compra dos direitos do Livro Folho He Rabbit-Proof Fence, da escritora aborígene Doris Pilkington Garimara, filha de Molly, uma das protagonistas do filme. Com um orçamento de US$ 3 milhões Phillip Noyce conseguiu levar para as telas o filme que foi a Segunda fita mais vista na Austrália esse ano, apesar de haver movimentos contrários em relação ao assunto no país, como ele mesmo afirmou. Segundo Noyce, quando a fita foi projetada para os aborígenes, estiveram presentes 1500 pessoas vindas de diversas partes e muitas delas eram parentes que há muitos anos não viam seus conterrâneos. Mas o filme não para por aí, pois Noyce irá filmar outra parte com os protagonistas de Geração Roubada já grandes, o jeito é esperar.

História real de Molly Craig, jovem negra australiana de 14 anos que, em 1931, com sua irmã Daisy, de 10 anos, e sua prima Gracie, de 8 anos, foge de um campo do governo britânico da Austrália, criado para treinar mulheres aborígines para serem empregadas domésticas. Molly guia as meninas por quase três mil quilômetros através do interior do país, em busca da cerca que o divide e que a permitiria voltar para sua aldeia de origem, de onde foram tiradas dos braços de suas mães. Na jornada, elas são perseguidas pelos homens do terrível governador A. O. Neville, o qual não admite que as meninas não estejam de acordo com o ditado pela sabedoria branca e cristã.




O apartheid que o mundo não viu Por: Pedro Aguiar

Nos anos 1920, o Apartheid foi tornado política oficial de segregação racial na África do Sul, separando legalmente os direitos de brancos e não-brancos naquele país. Na década seguinte, a Austrália adotou políticas semelhantes contra os aborígenes, porém sem chamar a mesma atenção da opinião pública mundial. Para "prevenir" a miscigenação e promover o "embranquecimento" da população, o governo australiano criou uma estrutura burocrática com plenos poderes sobre a vida dos nativos. Entre eles, o direito de separar filhos mestiços de suas mães e enviá-los a campos de confinamento no interior do país.

 

Geração Roubada (Rabbit-proof fence, 2002), em cartaz na mostra Panorama, conta a história real, ocorrida em 1931, de três destas crianças. Molly Craig, filha de uma aborígene e um branco, tinha 14 anos quando fugiu do campo de Moore River, com sua irmã mais nova e uma prima, tentando voltar para sua terra natal em Jigalong, no Norte. Juntas, as três se dispuseram a atravessar o território australiano, incluindo o outback (sertão), totalmente a pé. Como único guia pelo caminho, tinham a cerca contra coelhos - que inspirou o título original do filme - que cortava o país de norte a sul.

 

Dirigido pelo australiano Phillip Noyce, de O Colecionador de Ossos (The bone collector, 1999), Invasão de Privacidade (Sliver, 1993) e Jogos Patrióticos (Patriot games, 1992), Geração Roubada ganhou prêmio de melhor filme da AFI, o principal de seu país, além do prêmio do público em Edinburgo. Além das estreantes Everlyn Sampi, Tianna Sansbury e Laura Monaghan, o elenco conta com Kenneth Branagh no papel do Sr. Neville, intendente administrativo dos nativos, odiado pela população aborígene. A trilha sonora, que inclui sintetizadores contemporâneos, é do cantor e compositor inglês Peter Gabriel, indicado ao Globo de Ouro este ano.



Rabbit-Proof Fence (2002)/#####/*** A fourteen year-old Aborigine girl escapes with her sister and cousin from a 1930s Australian government camp intended to forcibly assimilate them into White society. [Dir: Phillip Noyce/ Everlyn Sampi, Tianna Sansbury, Laura Monaghan/ 94min/ Adventure-Drama/ Government as Bigot, Government vs. Native Peoples]

One of the things that so often makes government cruel is physical distance. The people who create law and the bureaucrats who interpret it are in a faraway place, well-defended against troublesome protest and remote enough not to see and feel its full effects. That's the only way to understand the actions portrayed here of A.O. Neville, then "Chief Protector of Aborigines" in 1930s Western Australia, who ordered the roundup (i.e., kidnapping) of all half-caste girls (girls of half Aboriginal and half White descent) from their Aboriginal families for mandatory education into the ways of White society, leading to eventual low-level employment as domestic servants.

Neville was simply enforcing the "Aborigines Act," a law designed with the happy intention of "salvaging" half-caste girls from Aboriginal life and integrating them to the degree possible into the modern world. So far away, Neville likely did not see such girls being ripped from their weeping mother's arms, or hear the unending wail of a parent's loss, or see the huddled, terrified girls carried away by train.

But we see all that here, in this heart-rending telling of the true story of Molly Craig, a half-caste 14 year-old so kidnapped in 1931, along with her sister and cousin. Transported 1,500 miles to a government camp, these young girls were told to forget their mother, their language, their home. But Molly would not forget. Nor would she submit. And she had one slender hope--that the "rabbit-proof fence" she observed to parallel their long journey would lead her back. So, in a rare unobserved moment, she gathered her sister and cousin and together they bolted for freedom.

All that happens in the opening of this film; the rest of it relates their amazing nine week trek across desolate Australian wilderness and desert. Along the way, they experience unending hardship and deprivation and are constantly hunted by the authorities, in some cases barely escaping capture. But they are also aided by kind people, who sympathize with their plight and admire their heroism. There is obvious tragedy in this story, but there is also triumph--despite repeated attempts by authorities, the indomitable Molly Craig (who, now 86, appears briefly at the end) was never forcibly assimilated and escaped government captors more than once.

This touching and inspirational true story is told with warmth and attention to detail. The child actresses who play the kidnapped girls are not professionals but untrained Aboriginal children. The use of local nature sounds and Aboriginal music also add much to the sense of realism. In less skilled hands, this epic story might have been trivialized into a two-dimensional Hollywood style racially-focused melodrama, but instead this has the feel of history, told from the perspective of a heroic and independent young girl who overcame the injustice of her times. This film swept the Australian Film Institute Awards and has been nominated for more than nineteen well-deserved awards worldwide.

It’s impossible to divorce Phillip Noyce’s Rabbit-Proof Fence from the social and political forces which have inspired it. The film necessarily adds to debate in Australia over the Stolen Generations and the role played by the government in this systematic destruction of aboriginal families in our recent past. Faced in the 21st century by a conservative government whose policies and attitudes have been less than understanding towards the indigenous people in this country, Rabbit-Proof Fence demands recognition for these past injustices. Colonialist attitudes of the first half of the last century sought to solve the ‘problem’ of the aboriginal population by removing half-caste children from their parents. They were to be trained (often as hired help) to fit into white society, and therefore eventually breed out the race entirely. But the by-product of this policy is the legacy which Australia currently must face, even if the government of the day refuses to do so. Taken from their parents, these aboriginal children’s ‘re-education’ sought to deny them their heritage and enforce a white/British colonial existence upon them. Dubbed the ‘Stolen Generations’ they were robbed of their past, denied the oral histories and ceremonies which formed the basis for their culture, and were of course, quite simply robbed of their families and re-invented as orphans. That such a practice has contributed to indigenous problems today is clear. Feelings of alienation, increased incidence of physical and sexual abuse as well as alcoholism and other substance abuse indicate the widespread social problems which face the children and grandchildren of those stolen. Rabbit-Proof Fence takes us back to core of this, a history lesson that seeks to place the events in a human context, almost in defiance of the lack of understanding and responsibility exhibited by the Howard government.

But the fear of a film as important, as significant as this, is that as a film, it will die in its own worthiness, praised for its noble cause and not for its impact as a piece of cinema. Rolf De Heer’s Dance Me to My Song is a case in point; the life of a severely disabled woman is celebrated in a mediocre film, but it garners praise out of respect for its subject. Noyce’s film, I suspect, will gain praise on the back of this respect-by-association, and in some respects it is praise it deserves, although it’s a film that will be remembered for being a ‘first’ rather than a ‘best’. Rabbit-Proof Fence charts the true story of Molly (Everlyn Sampi), her younger sister Daisy (Tianna Sainsbury) and cousin Gracie (Laura Monaghan) who are stolen from their mother (the wonderful Ningali Lawford) at their home in Jigalong, a remote community that backs onto the rabbit-proof fence. This fence which bisects the continent keeps the rabbit plague from destroying crops, but also acts as a guide to Molly and her younger charges once they abscond from the dour Moore River settlement. Their journey on foot covers 1500 kilometres, all the while pursued by aboriginal tracker Moodoo (David Gulpilil, from Nicholas Roeg’s Walkabout ), as they follow the fence they hope will eventually reunite them with their families. Considering the emotional power of the film, and indeed its significance in the current political climate, it’s surprising that Noyce chooses to pull back from the more sentimental elements of the film, a decision that works almost to the film’s detriment. Rabbit-Proof Fence walks a tightrope between both sides of the race debate, presenting, but not actually judging either party. Noyce’s greatest success is making the villain of the film, A.O. Neville (Kenneth Branagh) completely understandable. As the man implementing the policy, there is a strong sense that Neville truly believes he is doing the right thing, and Branagh plays him perfectly. With an imperious tone and a tight-lipped smile, Branagh gives Neville the frustrated sense of a man genuinely baffled by the indigenous population’s rejection of what to him is a perfect solution to a difficult problem. And although Noyce decides to sometimes distort Neville physically as he peers around the settlement, he is never derided as an evil fool, but more as a man of good intent consumed by ignorance. It helps steer Rabbit-Proof Fence away from allegations of sheer political propaganda, no matter how noble, and ensures it is a carefully considered investigation of a complex problem.



This distance is also in evidence with the sequences involving the journey home by the girls, and this is where the film is perhaps less successful. Noyce keeps us at a distance from the girls – they barely get any lines – and in some ways avoids the potential for a more didactic reading of the film. But it also means that on a simple human level, we never get a feeling for these characters as children so that attempts to humanise the effects of this heartless policy fails to engender the connection necessary. We watch them walk through the barren, unforgiving landscape, and Sampi as Molly is quite terrific with the set of her jaw and steely gaze. But they almost seem belittled by their own drama, as if they only have an incidental position within it, which shifts the balance of the film a little out of kilter. But if the focus on the girls falls a bit flat, the rest that surrounds it is strong and executed with some precision. The unspoken relationship between Moodoo and the girls works beautifully and in a quite fascinating way, as he pursues the girls at the behest of Neville, and his growing admiration for the spirit of the girls is conveyed with subtlety and skill. There are great small performances from Ningali Lawford and the wonderful Deborah Mailman, and the music by Peter Gabriel uses natural sounds and rhythms to construct the score. The cinematography is exemplary, and Rabbit-Proof Fence uses the colours of the outback, the shimmering sun haze and natural sounds to its advantage: if there was ever a doubt that Australia possesses a hostile environment, then this film proves it.

The end result is an admirable, impressive film that doesn’t quite come off as you’d hope, but still manages to capture with some exactitude the period it examines. It’s a brave move to approach such an overtly sentimental story with such dispassion, and for the most part it works. Rabbit-Proof Fence isn’t necessarily a great film; its tippy-toeing around the girls is too timid to ever grab us on a gut level and draw us close to the story. But its construction of the other factors that surround this help prop up these failings. It presents this secret history with a conscious complexity, and as a direct contribution to a national debate over the appropriate method to deal with the fallout from this foolish, tragic policy. There has been a small, competent Aboriginal cinema in Australia over the last ten years: notably Tracey Moffat's BeDevil, Nicholas Parson's Dead Heart and Rachael Perkins' Radiance and One Night the Moon. And these films have ably covered the problem of aboriginal deaths in custody and indigenous experience through art cinema, mainstream drama and music. Noyce's film fits comfortably within this milieu; it's interesting, gutsy and competently made. I would still suggest that the definitive film on the Stolen Generations is yet to be made. But if nothing else, Rabbit-Proof Fence marks cinema’s contribution to a much needed public discourse on a pressing, important social issue confronting Australia and Australians. And even if it is not a perfect film, it at least paves the way for further explorations of this issue in a search for a resolution which will reconcile our ignominious past with a more unified, responsible future.

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