Authentic storytelling wins WA First Nations Filmmaker Prize

Marlanie Haerewa's love of theatre, music and the profound act of storytelling and knowledge sharing has always been at the core of who she is.

Authentic storytelling wins WA First Nations Filmmaker Prize
Marlanie Haerewa won the First Nations Filmmaker Prize at the 2024 Best Australian Short Film.

First published on Edith Cowan University

Living her passion every day is something Marlanie Haerewa, a proud Nyikina and Ngāti Porou woman, is excelling at.

Marlanie graduated from the Western Australia Academy of Performing Arts (WAAPA) at Edith Cowan University (ECU) with a Certificate IV in Aboriginal Performance and a Bachelor of Performing Arts.

Her love of theatre, music and the profound act of storytelling and knowledge sharing has always been at the core of who she is.

"I've always been captivated by the power of authentic storytelling. There's something profoundly beautiful about listening to our Elders share tales from their lives or sharing laughs with family over shared memories," Marlanie said.

"These moments, rich in emotion and history, resonate deeply with me."

The Tale of Mr. Kimberley

Marlanie's thoughtful storytelling has seen her win the First Nations Filmmaker Prize at the 2024 Best Australian Short Film, for the documentary The Tale of Mr. Kimberley.

The documentary centres on Sam Lovell, a highly respected Elder in Derby, the Kimberley Region and across WA, who donated his extensive collection of archival photos and films to the State Library of WA.

Together with Jake Blackburn, Co-Creator, Cinematographer, Editor and Director, Marlanie discovered an incredible opportunity through Screenwest's ‘WA Reflections' initiative, a collaboration with the State Library of WA.

"Screenwest was looking to bring to life stories from the archives, and one name stood out to us: Sam Lovell," Marlanie said.

Spanning from the 1960s and possibly earlier, Sam Lovell's archival photo collection contains breathtaking landscapes and rich stories from the Kimberley region.

"We saw a unique chance for Sam to narrate his life story, in his own words, enabling us to voyage through his remarkable memories. The project was as much about honouring his legacy as it was about capturing the essence of the Kimberley through his eyes."

Preserving the history and beauty of the Kimberley

Winning the First Nations Filmmaker Prize for Marlanie not only filled her with immense pride but the recognition has also played a part in the bigger picture.

She said that the achievement is a testament to the collective efforts of the remarkable Jake Blackburn and the invaluable stories of Uncle Sammy Lovell.

"It underscores the importance and impact of sharing our stories," Marlanie said.

"By capturing these narratives through the lens, we not only honour our past but also ensure that future generations can learn from and connect with these voices long after they're gone.

"Crafting this documentary was an extraordinary privilege, allowing us to piece together a narrative that was as educational as it was inspiring.

"Through the lens, we were able to celebrate a story that is deeply personal yet universally resonant, ensuring that the legacy of Mr. Kimberley, and through him, the history and beauty of the Kimberley region, will be preserved for future generations."

Find out more about The Best Australian Short Film Competition.

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