Firestarter – The Story of Bangarra is a historically important film that takes the viewer through Bangarra’s birth and spectacular growth to where we are today entering our 4th decade. It recognises Bangarra’s early founders and tells the story of how three young Aboriginal brothers – Stephen, David and Russell Page – turned the newly born dance group into one of Australia’s leading performing arts companies. Through the eyes of the Page brothers and company alumni, Firestarter explores the loss and reclaiming of culture, the burden of intergenerational trauma and crucially, the extraordinary power of art as a messenger for social change and healing.
The documentary features remarkable archival footage and interviews with those integral to Bangarra’s establishment, including co-founders Carole Johnson, Cheryl Stone along with a number of former dancers and creatives.
Firestarter had its world premiere at the Brisbane International Film Festival on 11 October 2020, followed by screenings at film festivals across Australia.
Explore the Firestarter Study Guide.
AWARDS | NOMINATIONS
Winner 66th ANNUAL WALKLEY AWARDS FOR EXCELLENCE IN JOURNALISM (Documentary Award)
Finalist AUSTRALIAN INTERNATIONAL DOCUMENTARY CONFERENCE (Best Feature Documentary)
Winner AACTA (Best Documentary Award)
Winner ADELAIDE FILM FESTIVAL (Feature Documentary Award)
Winner ADELAIDE FILM FESTIVAL (Inaugural Change Award)
Nominated AACTA (Best Editing in Documentary)
Nominated AACTA (Best Sound in a Documentary)
Winner Pan African Film Festival (Best Feature Documentary)
BRISBANE INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL (CLOSING NIGHT)
ADELAIDE FILM FESTIVAL (DOCUMENTARY AWARD WINNER, INAUGURAL CHANGE AWARD WINNER)
BYRON BAY INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL (OPENING NIGHT)
REVELATION PERTH INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL (OPENING NIGHT)
SYDNEY FILM FESTIVAL (OPENING NIGHT)
PAN AFRICAN FILM + ARTS FESTIVAL LOS ANGELES
BIRRARANGGA FILM FESTIVAL (OPENING NIGHT)
PERFECT LIGHT FILM FESTIVAL (OPENING NIGHT)
HOT DOCS CANADIAN INTERNATIONAL DOCUMENTARY FESTIVAL (Online)
THE KARIJINI EXPERIENCE
SCREENWAVE INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL
ACMI HUMAN RIGHTS & ART FILM FESTIVAL
DOXA DOCUMENTARY FESTIVAL VANCOUVER (Online)
SAN FRAN DOCFEST
Photo: ©Michael Bianchino 1997