These three children were gifts from the past — in touch with nature and Aboriginal culture in ways that could never be taught or acted. My task would not be to get them to perform, but just ‘to let them be’. December 2000 Having completed seven weeks of shooting in the barren Flinders Ranges of South Australia, Cinematographer Chris Doyle and I fly to Ho Chi Minh City to begin Pre- Production on The Quiet American 7 . At the Metropolitan Hotel I meet up with Peter Gabriel and offer him the choice of two film projects as composer. The Quiet American comes with a music budget of half a million dollars. On a whim, I also tell him the story of Rabbit- Proof Fence though I can’t help but honestly report that we can only afford recording costs — there is no money for a composer’s fee. For the next ten months we enjoyed one of the closest collaborations I’ve ever had with a film composer. When he accepted the job, Peter said he wanted to make music that ‘came out of the earth itself.’ Month after month my sound team would send the real sounds of the Australian bush to Peter’s studios in Bath, England. Via MP3 file, Peter emails back the results of the samples that he and his team have orchestrated into a musical score. My assistant downloads the files, presses countless CDs and we experiment mixing the music with the film’s soundtrack in a continuous five-month sound mix. It’s as if our mixing console at Fox Studios in Sydney is linked via the internet to Real World Studios in Bath. February 2002 World premiere night for an audience of two. Molly’s grandson has dismantled an old 35mm projector from a cinema in Perth and transported it by truck to Jigalong. We inflate the giant movie screen imported from Germany and test the Dolby Stereo Surround Sound that has been set-up in the desert outside Molly’s house. Two days later, the two hundred residents of Jigalong are joined by 800 black figures that materialise from the desert haze. The dark storm clouds blow over, replaced by a canopy of stars behind the screen. A half hour before sunset, Molly Craig and her sister Daisy Kadibill Craig arrive for the first movie they have ever seen on a cinema screen. The crowd parts as the flashbulbs pop and a thousand people sit down to watch Molly’s story. As the movie proper finishes and the end credits roll, a giant moth flies into the projector and burns up on screen. The film disintegrates and breaks. From the day the movie opens in ninety-six Australian cinemas, the bitter attacks begin. Unable to simply celebrate the glorious bravery of three Australian heroines, right-wing commentators start a media campaign to discredit the movie. They claim the film distorts the manner in which the kids were removed from their parents and exaggerates the general suffering in the government re-education centres. Politicians join in, with one minister using government funds to print leaflets warning his constituents against seeing the film.
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- Indigenous Australians, Rabbit-Proof Fence, Follow the Rabbit-Proof Fence