“I’m a rainmaker in the making,” said Tom ‘Putuparri’ Lawford who is the focus of a new documentary directed by Chinese-born filmmaker Nicole Ma.
'Putuparri and the Rainmakers' is a true story about a Western Desert man trying to reconnect with culture.
For more than ten years, Ma followed Putuparri on a spiritual journey back to Kurtal, a sacred waterhole in the Great Sandy Desert.
“I was quite ignorant towards Aboriginal culture when I first started making the film,” she said.
“I had the stereotypical notion of Aboriginal people living in remote communities being drunk and being on the dole.”
It was in Kurtal that Putuparri underwent a personal transformation; from alcoholic to community leader.
“I started drinking after I had kids, and it made me not want to know about my country or participate in my culture,” he said.
“But I’m not the only person going through that kind of problem ... there are other people, both black and white.”
For several years, Putuparri battled with alcoholism and domestic violence in the western world.
But a desire to become a leader in his community helped him reconnect with country.
In 1997, Putuparri produced an artwork in the Pirnirni desert which became the basis for a successful Native Title claim in 2007.
“The painting is like a map of all people that come from the desert ... to show the government this is our country not yours,” he said.
Ma described this land claim as a "pivotal turning point" in her film, which will premiere in New South Wales tonight.
The sold-out event will take viewers on a spiritual and visually breathtaking journey of survival against all odds.
Putuparri and the Rainmakers will premiere tonight, 6:30pm at Sydney’s Event Cinemas on George Street.