Art Museums Indigenous Film Series Strikes Emotional Chord

As part of the Harvard Art Museums’ indigenous film series, a crowd of about 40 gathered Sunday to watch the film “Samson and Delilah,” which chronicles the lives of two native Australian teenagers living in poverty.

The film, made by indigenous filmmaker Warwick Thornton, follows the two title characters surviving through addiction and abuse in their small town in central Australia.

“You get a glimpse of their life which is so different from ours,” Cambridge resident Elona Hart said after watching the film. Hart added that she had heard of the movie when it came out, but had not yet had an opportunity to see it.

Cambridge resident Michael Hart said the large lack of spoken word in the film helped increase the emotional register of the work.

“I think that the fact that there were so few words helped to focus on what was important to feel,” he said. “I feel like the words would have really gotten in the way. They did a nice job in that respect.”


“I think the film was complicated. Part of it was not so easy to understand, but I think it’s a great topic,” Revathi Ananthakrishnan, another attendant at the event, said.

Jessica L. Martinez, the organizer of the event and Director of Academic and Public Programs at Harvard Art Museums, said she was excited to witness attendees mingling at the end of the event and sharing their own thoughts.

“I think what’s so terrific is… a lot of people really wanted to stay after the film and share their experiences,” Martinez said.

The Harvard Art Museums showed the film in Menschel Hall free of admission as part of its series “Together, Alone: Indigenous Film Now.”

Martinez said the name of the series is important. Referencing the title, she said, “That word ‘Now’ was so important to us. We really wanted to present film mostly by indigenous directors from Australia over the last 20 years.”

The film series, which is co-sponsored by the Harvard University Native American Program, aims to display the ways in which indigenous filmmakers have added to and changed cinema. It also hopes to convey to its audience how indigenous people have helped non-indigenous film directors portray indigenous stories more accurately and respectfully.

This film series has occurred alongside the special exhibition “Everywhen: The Eternal Present in Indigenous Art from Australia,” which displays indigenous art of Australia in the Harvard Art Museums.


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