This is an NFSA Digital Learning resource. See all Digital Learning websites.

THE 1966 FILM | THE 1976 FILM | THE 2002 FILM


1966, 17 mins (unrestricted scenes only), on Disc 1: Films of the Ceremony


In the early 1960s the filmmaker Cecil Holmes approached the Australian Institute of Aboriginal Studies (now the Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies - AIATSIS) to record ceremonies in the Northern Territory before they disappeared. Government policy of that time was for Aboriginal assimilation into mainstream society and it was felt that this would lead to such rapid change that many ceremonies would not be performed for much longer.

The Institute decided to form their own film production unit and in 1965 they appointed director Roger Sandall. Anthropologist Nicolas Peterson was contracted to find ceremonies that could be filmed and discovered that a Djungguwan was to be held at Yirrkala.

Two film versions of the Djungguwan were eventually completed in 1966, a 50-minute story of the ceremony and a five-hour archival record. Both accounts, however, were restricted in 1967 as they contained scenes of sacred dances performed at the secret men's camp - dances that are to be viewed by initiated Yolngu men only. The inclusion of the unrestricted parts of these films on in this DVD is the first time that they have been made available for the public to see.

The leading men performing in this 1966 ceremony are the fathers and uncles of the men who perform the 2002 Djungguwan held at Yirrkala.


Film and mini documentary excerpts from the Ceremony DVD

View Clip
View Clip
View Clip