At its world premiere in Toronto, Variety magazine compared Stephen Page’s dance film Spear to the West Side Story; it is an Australian coming of age story that tackles the complex issues of Indigenous masculinity.
"Men's business in the 21st century is a really interesting subject, and we [Indigenous men] all have that challenge of having a foot in each world, ancient and modern," ancient and modern, says Stephen Page, the director and creator of Spear.
Spear follows Djali, a young Aboriginal man played by Page’s own son Hunter Page-Lochard, as he navigates different time periods in a series of dream-like scenes.
Page originally developed Spear as a stage show in 2000 for Indigenous dance company Bangarra.
The story is roughly based on Page's journey as an Aboriginal man, growing up in an urban environment, but longing for the traditions and ceremonies of his ancestors.
“Someone said to me, 'is it about your experiences in life?' and when I think about it I spent the rest of my entire professional adulthood being obsessed with my identity,” says Page.
Page, who grew up as one of eight in Brisbane, stayed connected to his culture through performance, "I often wonder how many urban blackfella's envy the traditional living, the tongue and song and ceremonial practices".
"Dad directing completes a trilogy of projects of me becoming a man," Lochard tells BuzzFeed News.
Lochard also appeared in the 2000 stage version as a seven-year-old. He says making the movie at the age of 22 was a nice bookend to his childhood.
"Dad has directed me as a really young boy [in the stage production of Spear in 2000] then as a teenager and now finally an adult in the movie. It was quite a beautiful initiation process through the arts that we kind of personally shared," Lochard says.
"It was amazing to be immersed in a world of dance with very little dialogue. As an actor, I'm used to relying on scripts and words to communicate but making Spear made we realise we can say so much more with just physicality," he says.
Spear is the first Indigenous Australian feature film entirely set around dance. It was shot in several locations around the country including the remote region of Arnhem Land in the Northern Territory.
Spear is Page’s first feature film and a rarity for Australia cinemas.Spear is set for release in Australian cinemas in March. Watch the trailer here -
Allan Clarke is an Indigenous Affairs Reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in Sydney.
Contact Allan Clarke at email@example.com.
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