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Utopia Generations (ATOM Study Guide)

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SKU: SG1631

Utopia Generations is a short documentary directed by young Alyawarre filmmaker Viviana Petyarre. It explores the efforts made by Alyawarre elder Cowboy Loy Pwerle to protect his grandson Jermiah from the corrupting influences of modern life and to educate him in traditional law and culture. The film is about the importance of culture for Aboriginal wellbeing and sense of identity. It is about keeping a culture strong and carrying on teachings though the generations. It tells a story familiar to vast numbers of Aboriginal families in the twenty-first century, families with children and grandchildren navigating the treacherous divide between two cultures and two laws.

Cowboy Loy Pwerle, traditional 'boss' of Mosquito Bore and Arlparra, Utopia, Northern Territory, is worried about his grandson, who is seemingly lost to the perils of urban life in Port Augusta. Jermiah has been living in Port Augusta for seven years and has missed men's business. Worried for his grandson, Cowboy travels from Utopia to Port Augusta to implore Jermiah to change his ways and return to Country. In Port Augusta, Jermiah is distant and resentful towards his grandparents. He has no intention of returning home with his grandfather and Cowboy returns home empty-handed.

Six weeks later, Jermiah changes his mind. Succumbing to family pressure and his innate sense of responsibility, Jermiah returns to Utopia and submits to tribal law, becoming a man.

Upon his release from the bush camp, Cowboy and two of Jermiah's other grandfathers are waiting to show Jermiah Country and culture.

Led by Cowboy, the three grandfathers take Jermiah through Country, culture and memories of a life that was, and is, no more. They show Jermiah his grandfather's Country and Arwengerrp Dreaming (Bush Turkey) at Ilentye Utopia. They induct Jermiah into the skills of the traditional weapon-maker.

Months later, Jermiah chooses not to stay and returns to urban life in South Australia. What has he taken with him? Has he changed? Where does he see his life going now?

Curriculum Links:

Utopia Generations can be linked to the following subject areas within the Australian Curriculum:

  • Civics and Citizenship
  • English
  • Geography
  • Media Studies
  • History

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