Airdate: The Dark Emu Story
Author Bruce Pascoe responds to the attacks on him following his book on First Nations history.
Documentary film The Dark Emu Story with author Bruce Pascoe, screens on ABC in July.
Originally announced in 2020 Upfronts as a series, this is now a feature produced by Blackfella Films and includes comments from Stan Grant, Marcia Langton, Bill Gammage and Narelda Jacobs.
Years in the making, this feature length film explores the cultural impact of Bruce Pascoe’s Dark Emu – the book that ignited a raging debate and challenged Australians to rethink our history.
The 2014 best-selling book claims that First Nations people were not only hunters and gatherers but also farmers who were part of a complex economic system. Inspired by the journals of famous British explorers, the book makes the argument that First Nations people settled in villages, lived in houses, devised extraordinary methods of aquaculture and astronomy and were, amongst many other achievements, the world’s first bakers.
But Dark Emu sparked a fierce debate and provoked searing criticism. Academics Peter Sutton and Keryn Walshe published a stinging rebuff of the book, rejecting Pascoe’s theory of Indigenous agriculture, while conservative commentators poured scorn upon Pascoe’s work and questioned his Aboriginal identity.
For the first time, Bruce Pascoe responds directly to the attacks on him and offers rare personal insights on his journey since the publication of Dark Emu. One of Pascoe’s most vocal detractors Peter Sutton explains his major criticisms of the book, which culminates in Sutton and Pascoe coming face-to-face to challenge each other’s point of view. A chorus of compelling and informed commentators, historians and experts, including Stan Grant, Marcia Langton, Bill Gammage and Narelda Jacobs provide vital context and insight.
In the far reaches of the continent, from the rainforest to the desert, First Nations people share their culture and knowledge, shedding light on achievements that are celebrated in communities to this day, and the documentary follows new and unfolding archaeological research that aims to test ‘the Dark Emu hypothesis’.
Rich cinematography is combined with archive, both recent and from the distant past, to illuminate the debate.
The Dark Emu Story delves into the controversy, shares the remarkable stories of First Nations people and enlightens our understanding of Australian history.
Production credit: A Blackfella Films Production for the ABC. Principal production funding from Screen Australia’s First Nations Department in association with Screen NSW and VicScreen. Written & Directed by Allan Clarke. Written by Jacob Hickey. Producers: Darren Dale, Belinda Mravicic, Jacob Hickey. ABC Head of Indigenous: Kelrick Martin. Distributed by ABC Commercial.
Tuesday 18 July at 8.30pm on ABC.