World Premiere – 12 Canoes

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					                               World Premiere – 12 Canoes
Tuesday 1 July 2008: The world premiere of 12 Canoes is being presented at the National Film
and Sound Archive of Australia celebrating the creation of the NFSA as a statutory authority on 1
July 2008.

In the wake of the hit feature 10 Canoes, Director Rolf de Heer and digital media practitioner Molly
Reynolds have collaborated with the Yolngu people of the Arafura swamp to create 12 Canoes.

12 Canoes is a web based multi media project of twelve linked short subjects that together paint a
visual and audio portrait of the people, history culture and place of the Yolngu people whose
homeland is the Arafura Swamp of north-central Arnhem Land in the Northern Territory.

When Rolf de Heer was collaborating with the Indigenous Yolngu people of Ramingining to create
10 Canoes, there was too much material on the entirety of their lives, culture and history to include
in one film.

“Working with the people of Ramingining, there were so many details about this unique culture and
community that they were proud of and wanted recorded, that the idea of a website, which could
embrace any aspect they wished, was born. The community felt it was an opportunity to showcase
their history, their land and their culture to the outside world,” Rolf de Heer said.

Media practitioners Molly Reynolds and Marshall Heald agreed to collaborate to create this multi-
media web project in a lattice-like framework, to better reflect the Indigenous history, lifestyle and

The Executive Director of the National Film and Sound Archive, Dr Paolo Cherchi Usai said he was
so impressed with the first two completed modules of the web based project, he immediately saw
the potential to convert them into a cinematic presentation.

“What emerged was a powerful, lyrical portrait of a people and place, something that cannot be
experienced from the average website visit of between two and ten minutes. 12 Canoes is
essentially a cinematic poem; as such, it also deserves to be seen on the big screen,” Dr Paolo
Cherchi Usai said.

Ramingining is an isolated town about 500 kilometres east of Darwin with a population of about
1,500 people, mainly Indigenous, in the township and surrounding districts. Set up by the
government in 1972 to bring together the different peoples of the region, Ramingining is
consequently a mixed settlement of primarily Yolngu people. Many are close to or on their
traditional tribal lands; others are some distance removed from them.

The community is one of contrasts. Most people know six or seven languages, but English is
spoken only out of necessity, and often in rudimentary fashion. Hunting, fishing and gathering are
still practised, in both traditional and non-traditional ways, but at the same time people turn to the
internet to do their banking.
This cinematic release of 12 Canoes offers a more fluidly integrated soundtrack mixed specifically
for the cinema and has been prepared as a gift to NFSA by its creators, Rolf de Heer and Molly
Reynolds and offers a preview of the upcoming website, which is to be launched later this year.

The world premiere and one time screening of 12 Canoes is screening at 6.30pm tonight, 1 July
2008 at the National Film and Sound Archive. Tickets are limited.

Tickets: $20 general, $15 concession.
Contact Gail Sauer Ph: 6248 2162 or email

More information and breathtaking images from 12 Canoes is available on the NFSA website

Media access to the online media centre can be accessed by clicking on the media resources

Username: media
Password: media

 Media Contacts:            Anna Nicholes 02 9358 5982
                            Nicole Tiedgen 02 8356 9711

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