James Yami Lester

In 2016 Magali McDuffie and I set off on a journey across Australia from Canberra, across the Hay Plains and into Adelaide, South Australia to meet with Bruce Hammond, Son of the late Ruby Hammond - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ruby_Hammond

The year prior I had met Bruce in Canberra, Australia and he had inspired me with his Mother's story and indeed his own personal story as he fought for Country, the act of speaking for his homelands and that of the Aboriginal country of which Australia is made up of. As we arrived in Adelaide Bruce made it know that his Ancestors had travelled with us, right into the biggest storm that Adelaide had experienced in decades.

With the power out across the state Magali and I drove a 4WD vehicle up to Port Augusta, then onto Quorn, Hawker, Yapalla Community, Copley and over the hills into the Nepabunna Community and back into Iga Warta, Flinders Ranges - http://www.igawarta.com/exper.html

We listened and recorded the views of those people we were connected to via Bruce and he assured us that each and every person we interviewed were in some way connected to the story emerging regarding the largest planned nuclear fuel dump in Australia. We returned via Port Augusta after recording 12 interviews and many hours of scenic footage. That was the beginning of a long journey forward with this story on our minds and with much editing work to complete.

For Magali and I, after many years in this industry and with many years working with Aboriginal communities across Australia one thing is clear - make sure the story we listen to is authentically, responsively, culturally appropriate, that it is clearly demonstrating the ethics of the individuals included and most importantly that the while process is open for change from those it seeks to represent.

As is the emancipatory journey, the Nura (country) to filmmaking process we promised to return and screen with each community now has the results of what we thought the key emergent story is from this important discussion. Over the next year the film weighed deeply on our minds as battled many different personal challenges and the expense that it had taken us to achieve this journey - $12,000 AUD of our own personal funds in total.

So in early July 2017 we finished the editing of the first rough cut of the film and with a 32 min recording we set out from Canberra, ACT Australia after screening the first of many screenings with community, both public and private of the 'Protecting Country' film. To return this film to country meant we had to travel back across many thousands of kilometres and so with all due respect and planning we set about visiting other communities to bring them into the awareness of the important message in the film.

We made the decision also to bring along on the journey a young person who would benefit from the experience, culturally, professionaly, personally and this person is Liam Wille, a fantastic photographer - https://500px.com/liam_wille

We setup a sponsorship prospectus and set about asking the public, friends and our families to support us on this journey as we have expended every last cent of our own funding. In total we sought $2000 to take us as far as Alice Springs, Northern Territory of Australia which is the heartland for this story and the plans to dump this waste in South Australia. With the help of many sponsors that you can see listed here - http://www.ngikalikarra.org/protecting-country - we managed to make it all the way back to Iga Warta, screening the film in Canberra, Condobolin, Hay, Balranald, Mildura, Adelaide, Port Augusta, Hawker and Iga Warta communities.

Along the way we cut a short trailer and released it for feedback.



Whilst we were in Iga Warta we heard news that Yami Lester, late Father of Karina Lester had past away.

Yami Lester is and always will be a key figure, a leader and respected anti-nuclear campaigner, a Yankunytjatjara man, an Indigenous person of northern South Australia. Lester, who survived nuclear testing in outback Australia, best known as an anti-nuclear and indigenous rights advocate - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yami_Lester

This post serves to inform everyone that as a mark of respect, to honour cultural sorry business and to respect the rights of Yami's Family and Relatives that we will no longer screen the first cut of the Protecting Country film as we travel up from Port Augusta and onto Coober Pedy, Alice Springs, Katherine, Derby and Broome.

We raised close to $2000 AUD which paid for our accomodation, food, fuel and other items we needed to travel from Canberra through to Alice Springs. From that location we will use our own limited personal funding to return this important story along the songlines and story lines of central Australia.

We wish to thank all of our sponsors who have made this trip possible to return this film to country to be screened with hundreds and close to thousands of people who may never have had the experience to contribute to the feedback, considerations, advice and eventual final cut of this important film.

Our journey across Australia and up to Broome via Katherine will continue but we will not be screening the film rough cut as we have returned it to the main community members it includes. Our journey now is to travel across country, to connect with Yami Lester's story personally ourselves and to respect the rights of those who have afforded us the right to be on country and to understand how important it is to protect this country.

We are planning to premier this film, Protecting Country in Sydney, Canberra and Adelaide Australia in late 2017, early 2018 when we have permission to do so, complete and in the final form that it will also be seen worldwide after the premiers in Australia. This important film is destined to screen in Germany, France and England and will be made available also via NITV, ITV and other appropriate channels.

The following photos are but a few of many that Liam has taken whilst on the journey through to Iga Warta from Canberra, ACT Australia.

 

When this film has reached final cut we will send everyone details of screenings and locations for you to attend and support.

Many many thanks!