Traditional Owners fight to protect the Martuwarra Fitzroy River in Stephanie King’s Voices of the River

Voices of the River.

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Documentary web series Voices of the River will be released next week, featuring ten Traditional Owners fighting to protect the Martuwarra Fitzroy River from large-scale water extraction.

Following acclaim on the international festival circuit, Voices of the River will premiere next Wednesday July 28 on Facebook and Instagram TV, and release weekly over the next 10 weeks, in partnership with Environs Kimberley, the Kimberley Land Council and The Kimberley – Like Nowhere Else alliance.

The National Heritage listed Martuwarra Fitzroy River stretches over 700km from desert to sea in WA’s Kimberley region, and is of great cultural and environmental significance. However these values are under threat from Murray-Darling style proposals to pump more than 375 billion litres of water from the river for intensive irrigated agriculture. Voices of the River goes out on Country with ten Traditional Owners fighting to protect one of the last wild rivers in the world, the mighty Martuwarra Fitzroy River.

Bunuba-Walmajarri Custodian Natalie Davey features in Episode 3 and shared her connection to her Country and river.

“It was amazing to sit by the river during filming, near where my grandmother was born,” she said.

“To be part of that environment and share those connections to the river, and why it’s so important to us.

“We’re always telling stories. Aboriginal culture is passed down though oral tradition, so being able to share films is a great way to continue that and bring it into today’s online media.”

Proud Bunuba woman and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Justice Commissioner June Oscar AO has described the series as “incredibly powerful.”

“As First Peoples we have a right to speak our languages, to be on Country, to be in control of our knowledges and resources, and to be free to practice our Law and culture. The protection of the Bandaral Ngarri (Martuwarra Fitzroy River) is critical to upholding these rights,” she said.

“We must stand together to protect our River Country—the collective power of our voices can transform society for the better and leave a legacy that our grandchildren’s grandchildren will be proud to inherit.”

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Filming on Voices of the River began in 2019 after documentary filmmaker Stephanie King and cinematographer John Chisholm were approached by Environs Kimberley to help share the voices of Traditional Owners on the Martuwarra.

Environs Kimberley director Martin Pritchard said the videos were powerful and highlighted the wishes of the Traditional Owners on the Martuwarra.

“Traditional Owners have lived along the Martuwarra Fitzroy River for tens of thousands of years, Native Title has been determined along the entire length of the river and it’s National Heritage listed for its cultural values, but this has not been enough to stop plans to extract water,” he said.

“Traditional Owners on the Martuwarra do not want and have never consented to water extraction on the Fitzroy River and it’s time their wishes were considered. Hopefully, these videos share those concerns and drive support to protect the Martuwarra.”

Voices of the River is an enlightening series that amplifies the voices of Traditional Custodians from five language groups and encourages audiences to engage with the conversation about development along one of Australia’s last in-tact river systems. The series premiered in Melbourne Documentary Film Festival and was awarded Silver Award for Best Web Series in Los Angeles-based Independent Shorts Awards. It was also selected for Documentary Australia Foundation’s competitive Environmental Incubator program, which supports high potential projects to drive meaningful change.

HOW YOU CAN SEE THE SERIES
Episodes will be released weekly on Wednesdays at 3:30pm AWST or 5:30pm AEST on Facebook and Instagram, beginning Wednesday 28 July 2021. Watch @voicesofthefitzroyriver

#voicesoftheriver 

TAKE ACTION https://www.environskimberley.org.au/water_paper

Starring Joe Brown, Mary Aiken, Pampila Hanson Boxer, Natalie Davey, Sandra Brooking, Anthony McLarty, Helen Malo, Emily Carter, Wayne Bergmann and Diane Chungal 

Directed & produced by Stephanie King 
Cinematographer John Chisholm 
Editor Jonathan Reed Title 
Design Sean Valadao Duarte 
Music Mr Joe Brown 
Translation Ronnie Jimbidie & Diane Chungal 
Trailer Tamzin Langsford, Music Martin King, Mixed by Jeremy Wilmot 
Partners Environs Kimberley, Kimberley Land Council, Kimberley – Like Nowhere Else & Documentary Australia Foundation 

Special Thanks Monique Barker, Lisa Thomas, Martin Pritchard, Clara Williams Roldan & Pilbara and Kimberley Aboriginal Media (PAKAM)

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