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Two elderly men sit on a bench in conversation



Reckless Eye Productions

In September 1852, in South Australia’s Flinders Ranges, the body of 16-year-old shepherd James Brown was found, mutilated and castrated. The next day, a reprisal party of 17 men pursued a flock of stolen sheep and killed a disputed number of First Nations people. Almost 170 years later, descendants of James Brown’s family return to the Flinders Ranges and reach out to people from some of the Aboriginal groups that share memories from the traumatic early period of European invasion. What happens when stories of violence and conquest on Australia’s colonial frontier are more than just a historical abstraction, with powerful and personal meanings for families and individuals on both sides of the inter-cultural frontier? How do memories of colonial violence still resonate powerfully today, especially within the lives of many First Nations people? And can the scars of past atrocities be reconciled and healed through the act of truth telling? Close to the Bone is a practical exercise in ‘truth and reconciliation’, engaging with culturally and politically challenging material in an effort to forge shared understandings. The film reveals diverse understandings of historic events, while seeking to resolve a shared path forward. In doing so, the film is informed by Charlie Perkins’ immortal words of: ‘We know we cannot live in the past, but the past lives in us.’ 

PRODUCER: Malcolm McKinnon, Jared Thomas (SA)

DIRECTOR: Malcolm McKinnon, Jared Thomas (SA)

WRITER: Malcolm McKinnon, Jared Thomas (SA)