Ten Canoes: Bonus Material: The Balanda and the Bark Canoes

Released 2006


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Ten Canoes: Bonus Material: The Balanda and the Bark Canoes

Movie Summary

Rolf de Heer
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Ten Canoes: Bonus Material: The Balanda and the Bark Canoes is a documentary on the making of Ten Canoes, the 11th feature film directed by Australian filmmaker Rolf De Heer. Filmmakers Molly Reynolds and Tania Nehme join De Heer in crafting this account of the Herculean challenges involved during filming. Casting indigenous nonactors from Australia's Northern Territory to represent the ancient people of the Arafura Swamp, de Heer envisioned collaboration with the Ramingining community, and realized the script would need to develop unconventionally. Being set before the coming of the Balanda (as white people are known there), de Heer wanted the feature film done their way, not the "Balanda" way. It soon became the most difficult film he'd ever made, a challenging improvisation determined in part by the imaginations and lives of its Aboriginal cast. Aside from the challenges of following a loose script, there were language difficulties. While there are essentially no other pronouns in their language, there are 16 different words for 'we'. Filming, complicated by harsh, remote locations rife with mosquitoes, leeches, and crocodiles required armed crocodile spotters to keep the crew safe. Awarded the Special Jury Prize, Un Certain Regard at the 2006 Cannes Film Festival, this remarkable documentary may be as rewarding and impressive as the feature film.moreless

Metacritic Score

  • 100


    Anthropology and entertainment are marvelously married in Rolf de Heer's Ten Canoes. The first feature in an Australian Aboriginal language feels authentic to the core as it tells ...

  • 90

    The New York Times Stephen Holden

    There is nothing more enthralling than a good yarn, and Ten Canoes interweaves two versions of the same story, one filmed in black and white and set a thousand years ago, and an ev...

  • 80

    Los Angeles Times Kevin Thomas

    Ten Canoes is nonetheless audacious and impressive, but challenging work, requiring steadfast concentration.

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