It’s not fair, all my friends in Australia have been to see Ten Canoes and I’ve had to make do with an Awaye documentary on the making of the film. I have both professional and personal reasons for wanting to see the film, the professional being that it’s billed as the first ever film shot entirely in an Aboriginal language (Ganalbingu, a Yolŋu variety).
Now, one thing I discovered from the film (quite accidentally as it turned out) was that this isn’t true. The Awaye documentary played clips from the film and I heard at least three different languages other than English. There was Djinang (the cover term for the clan varieties of which Ganalbingu is one), Dhuwal (aka Djambarrpuyŋu, another Yolŋu language and lingua franca in the Milingimbi/Ramingining area) and another Yolŋu language which I didn’t recognise which I reckon might have been Gumatj. So, three for the price of one! One of the actors also made a comment that the actors were speaking their own languages, not just Ganalbingu. So the movie is also a wonderful illustration, potentially, of conversations where the participants all speak different languages!