“Nature can mend even the most broken heart”
Emu Runner is a story about a nine-year-old Indigenous girl, Gem Daniels (Rhae-Kye Waites), who lives in a remote Australian town. As she copes with her mother’s unexpected death, Gem finds solace in the company of a wild emu, unwittingly connecting with her mother’s traditional totem animal.
Death can be a tough subject to discuss, especially when putting a child front and centre. The way Imogen Thomas tackles this and the different stages within the subject, while never denying the discrimination and misunderstanding/prejudice the Indigenous population in Australia have to deal with on a daily basis, is done tactful and with respect for the traditional customs in modern Indigenous culture, and looks beyond what’s on the surface.
I couldn’t be more happy watching a film with a diverse cast, telling a story in a way everyone can understand, while educating its audience and bathing it in a colourful culture most of us didn’t grow up with. It’s time for white Australia to give attention to the Aboriginal heart that lies within the country.
Although the acting isn’t as strong all around, young actress Waites delivers her lines with such innocence and natural emotion, you’ll forgive her supporting cast members coming across a bit wooden. What helps is the way director Imogen Thomas and her DOP Michael Gibbs give the nature of the isolated community of Brewarrina country, that surrounds them, an authentic voice. Like breathing life into the silence that fills the voids. Birds chirping, wind blowing, the sun rising and stars shining bright above a crackling fire, all works as supporting characters, which makes you wonder once more how much we take nature for granted. Simply stunning.
Emu Runner might not be for everyone of us, since it’s narratively a bit thin, but it does a bang up job in telling the story it wants to tell, with people that are clearly passionate and driven. Your voices have been heard, and I hope more “white fellas” give this film a chance, in supporting Indigenous storytelling. Imogen Thomas‘ directorial feature debut leaves a rightful stamp on Australian cinema. Can’t wait to see what she brings next.
Review – ‘Emu Runner’
Reviewed from online screener provided by Umbrella Entertainment, Sydney, Nov. 5, 2019. Australian Classification: PG. Running time: 95 min.
PRODUCTION: An Umbrella Entertainment release of an Imogen Thomas Films production. Producers: Antonia Barnard, Victor Evatt, John Fink, Gabriel Shipton, Imogen Thomas. Executive producer: Stephen Vineburg.
CREW: Director, screenplay: Imogen Thomas. Camera (color, widescreen): Michael Gibbs. Editors: Jenny Hicks, Nicole Norelli. Music: Peter Michael Davison, Ben Fink, Glenn Skuthorpe.
WITH: Rhae-Kye Waites, Wayne Blair, Rob Carlton, Georgia Blizzard, Maurial Spearim, Stella Carter, Mary Waites, Lindsay Waites, Letisha Boney, Rodney McHughes.