Life at the Berrimah Hilton: Prison Songs (Kelrick Martin, 2015)

A ground-breaking and uncompromising documentary that sings into life the stories of a group of Indigenous Australians inmates and shatters preconceptions with grace, empathy and humour.

“Is this your first time at the Berrimah Hilton? Prepare to be amazed. Checking in is all too easy.” – Phil

The “Berrimah Hilton” was Northern Territory largest correctional facility. Built in 1979, the prison was supposed to house up to 110 inmates, but before being decommissioned at the end of 2014 that number had risen to about 800. Of those, 80% were Indigenous people.

The incarceration rate of Indigenous Australians is a tough and confronting topic and one that the general public often shies away from. But what we forget whenever we avoid confrontation with such overwhelming evidence are the stories and the lives behind the data. Kelrick Martin’s new TV documentary Prison Songs shows the faces behind the statistics, giving them centre stage and letting nine inmates sing their story in their own voice.

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Ten films to look forward to in 2015

2014 was a great year for films and 2015 looks to be even more interesting, with lots of exciting movies coming out in the upcoming months. We selected five films each from the ones we can’t wait to watch next year. What are your suggestions for 2015? Let us know in the comments and we’ll add them to our personal “To Watch” list.

Matteo D. Films – Of prayers, silences, revolutions, desert storms and crossguards.

1. Words with Gods (Guillermo Arriaga)

Based on a concept by Guillermo Arriaga, “Words with Gods” is an anthology film featuring shorts that explores world religions and personal spirituality by  an all-star ensemble of directors that features: Hector Babenco, Bahman Ghobadi, Amos Gitai, Emir Kusturica, Mira Nair, Hideo Nakata, Alex de la Iglesia and Warwick Thornton. Curated by acclaimed author Mario Vargas Llosa, “Words with Gods” is the first instalment in a series of four feature films produced under the label Heartbeat of the World project. Each one revolves around a common theme:  religion, sexuality, politics and drug addiction.

The film was first screened at Venice 2014 and is likely to be released globally later this year. I have always been a fan of anthology films and this looks like a really promising one. Just the idea of seeing Thornton, Kusturica and Nakata in the same anthology is enough for me to hope it will find its way to Australia soon.

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