Matthew Thorne: The film director and photographer was born in Adelaide, Australia in 1993. Before making Marungka Tjalatjunu, he created short films including The Sand That Ate The Sea about the Australian opal-mining town of Andamooka and Gaib, an essay film about spirituality and death. His artistic work has been presented in several solo exhibitions in Australia. He currently lives between Berlin, Athens and Australia.
Derik Lynch: Born in Alice Springs, Australia in 1986, he belongs to the Yankunytjatjara. He studied at the Centre for Aboriginal Studies in Music at the University of Adelaide. Since 2008, he has been a performer and/or cultural advisor on numerous productions in Australia and around the world. He currently lives and works as an artist and teacher in Adelaide.
What was your starting point for “Marungka Tjalatjunu”?
Matthew Thorne: Our starting point for the film came from a chance meeting during the Adelaide Fringe Festival. Derik and I were at an artists bar at the festival, dancing away. This is how we met – on the dance floor of that outdoor venue in the hot 40 degree Australian summer heat. From there Derik began to call me often, and I asked him if i could write down some of the story he was telling me about his life. That grew into the film today.
Do you have a favourite moment in the film? Which one and why this one?
Derik Lynch: My favourite moment in the film is the scene where I perform traditional Inma in front of the Rock of Ages, while painted in the Walka (story told through sign / symbol / body art). Inma hasn’t been performed in a long time on Country. So this performance was very important to keep that tradition alive.
Matthew Thorne: Mine is the sequences down by the Finke river. That is one of the oldest rivers in the world, but it only flows after heavy rains. We came up just after a great flood, and all the land was green, and the water was running as this wide river. We all swam together in the lake, and the whole family was there. It was very special to me.
What do you like about the short form?
Derik Lynch: The short form makes people want more. The question we’ve always been asked when we show it, is ‘We want more! When can we see more?’. Leaving people with that feeling is important to me. This is just a glimpse for a white audience to see our beautiful country, and hear a small part of one of our many stories
Matthew Thorne: Some of my favourite works of cinema are short form. I was very affected by Forough Farrokhzad’s film The House is Black when I first saw it. It is a short form, but carries within it great power. The work is about a Leper colony in Iran, it moves with immense grace from poetry, documentary observation, constructed narrative, to heightened surreal imagery. I think its short form nature is a part of how it is able to move between these parts so well – part of the works power comes from that freedom – and I felt freed myself in how i could use the short form after I saw that film. Also in how the short form could make a work stronger – and not be a reflection of not having enough resources.
That format also allows for a fluidity and structure and tonality that often is not available in longer format works (partly because of their length, partly because of the economic system required to create them). The short form gave us a great freedom, and a beautiful sense of openness to approach the story.