Adelaide Boys and Indigenous Stories Take Flight in Motorkite Dreaming

“Mad Max: Fury Road only had 450 hours of footage,” says Charlie Hill-Smith, director of Motorkite Dreaming. “We had over 1000 hours of footage to make this film.”

Motorkite Dreaming is, in Hill-Smith’s words, an epic “cross-cultural adventure”. The film follows the journey of two amateur microlight pilots from the Adelaide Hills (Aiden Glasby and Daryl Clarke) as they fly from the Coorong to Broome. The eight-week voyage takes the pair and their tiny entourage of partners and filmmakers through 20 Indigenous language nations. Guided by two Aboriginal leaders, the cast and crew are introduced to a world most Australians are unfamiliar with. motorkite-dreaming-adelaide-review “Most Australians don’t know their history,” Hill-Smith says. “It’s a dark history and people are pretty clueless about it.” Flying across the country in a microlight – essentially a small motor with seats attached to a hang gliding wing – is a perilous decision to make at the best of times. Hill-Smith says that Clarke and Glasby’s determination to complete their mission bordered on lunacy. “Regular pilots call microlight pilots ‘temporary citizens’. The boys almost killed themselves three or four times,” he says. motorkite-dreaming-adelaide-review While the film is ostensibly about Clarke and Glasby’s hazardous journey across the country in two rickety microlights, the deeper message of the story is one of discovery and appreciation of Aboriginal culture. Hill-Smith says that the adventure story is an effective pretense to re-introduce a contemporary audience with a culture that has existed for 50,000 years. “You have to get people to engage with Aboriginal culture as a starting point,” he says. “The film really holds up Aboriginal genius in music, art, spirituality and history.” Conveying what might be paradoxically foreign concepts to an Australian audience is not a simple task on film. Hill-Smith says he had to ask key questions, such as “What is a songline? What does that actually mean to people?” to be able to get his message across. “You just try to give a sense of that genius to people.” motorkite-dreaming-adelaide-review No stranger to portraying Australia’s Indigenous cultures on screen, having been cinematographer for Rolf de Heer’s Ten Canoes, Hill-Smith says he was frequently in awe at the continuum of culture and resilience he saw in his own journey across the country. The “living nature of Aboriginal culture and law” he saw in the nations the team visited, and the importance of storytelling, law and marriage in those groups particularly struck him. “A lot of these stories are still told. The profound, web-like connection between the nations is still there.” Motorkite Dreaming is screening in select cinemas across Adelaide and the country this month.

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