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FIRST FORTNIGHT: FIRESTARTER

Wayne Blair

Firestarter marks Bangarra Dance Theatre’s 30th anniversary. Taking us through Bangarra’s birth and spectacular growth, the film recognises Bangarra’s founders and tells the story of how three young Aboriginal brothers — Stephen, David and Russell Page — turned the newly born dance group into a First Nations cultural powerhouse. But as Firestarter reveals, the company’s (inter)national success – the NY Times called Bangarra ‘a company like no other’ – came at a huge personal cost. As it enters its fourth decade Stephen must lead the company alone, finding a way to channel grief and sorrow into the strength to forge ahead, with a new generation of Indigenous dancers relying on his genius to tell their stories. Through the eyes of the brothers and company alumni, Firestarter explores the loss and reclaiming of culture, the burden of intergenerational trauma, and – crucially – the power of art as a messenger for social change and healing.

Screening as part of First Fortnight 2022.

96 mins, Australia, 2020, Digital

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