Three Aboriginal Australians who went on to further great achievements in cinema made their feature film debut in Radiance (1998): Rachel Perkins as director, Warwick Thornton as cinematographer and the sparkling Deborah Mailman in her award-winning role as the youngest sister. On the Queensland coast, three sisters confront family secrets, smouldering resentments and insecure identity in a rickety old clifftop house, with intermittent soaring excerpts from Madam Butterfly on the sound track. Post-film discussion included questions of whether there was anything intrinsically indigenous about the story and how Louis Nowra’s original stage play managed to succeed without the visual spectacle available to the film makers. I did not appreciate the relevance to this film of Nowra’s own family circumstances but have since read his biog on Wikipedia. Members who attended the screening may be interested to have a look.

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