Sep 21, 2021 Last Updated 2:26 AM, Oct 6, 2020

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The Aboriginal Tent Embassy - 40 years on


Hungry for our land

On the night of January 26th 1972 a small group of Aboriginal men drove from Sydney to begin the most significant protest for land rights and equity in the history of the indigenous struggle in Australia. In the darkness opposite parliament house they pitched a beach umbrella and hung a sign on it which read: Aboriginal Embassy.




                                                     Ningla - A'Na - Protesters confront police 



So began a protest that would galvanise a broad coalition of Aboriginal groups and their white supporters. The protest made world headlines, became a point of discussion throughout Australian society and was a huge embarrassment to the right wing Government of PM William McMahon who only twenty four hours before the Embassy was established had announced that under no circumstances would his Government support landrights for Australia’s aborigines. Particularly galling was the fact that Canberra police had discovered a by-law which clearly established that what the protesters were doing was not illegal and they could stay where they were.

Whilst there was plenty of media coverage of the Embassy; only one camera crew viewed the action from the inside. Filmmaker, Alessandro Cavadini and a small crew were making “Ningla – A’Na” ….. a 73 minute film that today is an extraordinary historical document which becomes more valuable as the years go by. The film reflects an unique and productive time in which the Aboriginal Medical Service, the Aboriginal Legal service and the National Black Theatre were established. These institutions were part of a process of self determination and black assertiveness which epitomised that era. Now, 40 years later the film raises as many questions as it did then. What has really changed since those days? Has life improved for Black Australia?

The film is being screened at 40th anniversary celebrations in Canberra, Melbourne, Adelaide and the Message Sticks festival at the Sydney Opera House in March.

“The single most important film on the aboriginal political struggle in the last 50 years.” – Gary Foley Activist and Historian.

To mark the 40th anniversary of the establishment of the Aboriginal tent embassy Smart Street Films has made this rare film available on DVD.  More information and previews

Order your copy of Ninga A'Na