Putuparri and the Rainmakers, which was a sell out at the Melbourne International Film Festival and won the $100,000 Cinefest Oz Film Prize in Western Australia, is opening at Melbourne's Cinema Nova on Thursday.
The film takes audiences on a rare and emotional journey to meet the traditional rainmakers of Australia's Great Sandy Desert.
The film spans 20 transformative years in the life of Tom "Putuparri" Lawford as he navigates the deep chasm between his Western upbringing and his determination to keep his traditional culture alive.
Ten years in the making, the film is an extraordinary eyewitness account of the living traditions of Putuparri’s people.
Director Nicole Ma documents Putuparri's journey, travelling with him and his family on numerous occasions to Kurtal, a sacred waterhole in the Great Sandy Desert where they ritually make rain.
In winning the Cinefest Oz prize Putuparri and the Rainmakers was competing against four new very classy Australian feature films including Michael Petroni's scary mystery thriller Backtrack starring Adrien Brody, the hilarious new film from Wayne Hope and Robyn Butler, Now Add Honey, Paul Ireland's Indie film Pawno and the Jan Chapman produced The Daughter with Geoffrey Rush, Ewen Leslie, Miranda Otto and Sam Neill.
The Cinefest Oz jury included Sarah Snook (Secret River) and Wayne Blair (The Sapphires) and they were unanimous in their verdict with the chair David Wenham saying "Putuparri and the Rainmakers had a story and characters that were so compelling and emotionally engaging, that it reinforced the power of cinema to entertain, touch us deeply and stay with us forever.”
Putuparri and the Rainmakers also received a rapturous reception when it was launched on 25 August for its home town audience at Fitzroy Crossing on an outdoor screen to a crowd of nearly five hundred local people.
Six days later it had a similar audience at Broome's Sun Pictures cinema with lines stretching around the block and the candy bar forced to call for extra ice creams from the cinema down the road.
Coincidentally one of the stars of the film Dolly Snell recently won the $50,000 Telstra Indigenous Art Award for a painting of Kurta, the sacred waterhole in the desert.
Putuparri and the Rainmakers is an emotional, visually breathtaking story of love, hope and the survival of Aboriginal law and culture against all odds.
Putuparri and the Rainmakers screening at Melbourne's Cinema Nova from 1 October with filmmaker Q&As following the 6.40pm screenings on Thursday 1 and Friday 2 October.