Singing the Baaka – rough compiles

ROUGH SCRIPTING to indicate voiceover.

Credits overlaid pan down from Eiffel Tower onto Australian native fish scale motifs Jean Nouvel’s Musée du quai Branly, an artwork by Lena Nyadbi (BBC Art Show footage). Following is Jenny’s footage of Lena Nyadbi’s painting on show at Art Gallery of NSW.

MURRAY
V/O continuing
My grandmother used to say that after 2006 each year nine million viewers from the Eiffel Tower looked down to see this work that celebrates us and all the other great fish this continent created.

This was a magical time, but not soon after she started talking about things were changing. I can hear her now:

GRANDMOTHER
V/O continuing
No respect here. Everyone’s business is interrupted.

MURRAY
That roof is Lena talking about the Aboriginal story of how the Barramundi spirit once hid in the Ord River, and when its scales scraped off and sunk to the bottom they became diamonds. Now Lena is painting in dams. And mining. Everyone’s business is interrupted. But like the scales on that building where Lena kept them out of reach of those tourists, Aboriginal people are still keeping those glittery things out of reach to protect their ways. And even now there are still glorious moments in all these goings on.

Cut to video footage of a Tolarno cattle station owner cradling her body went viral worldwide. She garnered further fame the following day when Jeremy Buckingham, MP, cradled her decaying corpse for his retching media clip.

MURRAY
My grandmother had her day in the sun when whole world sent her off. It was an international wake.

Cut to footage from Thailand with great translation mistake with description of the Minister, BBC and others.

MURRAY
But its still really serious what we let happen all around us.

FRED HOOPER – Chair of the Northern Basin Aboriginal Nations
(Max Phillip drone footage of red gums, water release and cotton aerial, Jenny’s Brewarrina fish traps)

MURRAY
People cant go about their business like they could before. Its like gears shifted and suddenly we are all watching ourselves in American movies. Everyone’s business is interrupted.

(Meryl Streep as Bev Smiles, previously Orlean in Charlie Kaufman and Spike Jonze’s film Adaptation (2002). Bev recently won her case against the NSW Police and the Wilpinjong Coal Mine that tested the new state anti-protest legislation and is the community representative on the NSW Department of Industries and Water Groundwater Stakeholder Advisory Committee. Here, the Kaufman plotline of the thief collecting orchids for his own obsession is replaced with Bev needing to collect them to protect the manuka honey producing species from the fracking, logging, mining, damming and irrigation industries as business-as-usual in our national parks and on private lands. In Adaptation Cage succumbs to writing a formulaic blockbuster ending, selling out on Streep’s character to depict a spiral down into drug and porn crazed violence and out-of-control criminality. Bev’s entwinement shows how fertile the ground has been made to create hyppereal narratives to dismiss those working for everyday community interests).

MURRAY
We can’t go back, but we can look back to see what’s always been driving this sort of thing to deal with all those sharks and puffer fish messing up the ocean now.

Frog sequences depicting greed – mashed up scenes from two frog stories that explore it, one involving the stop and start dancing of the frog in the animated short musical film One Froggy Evening written by Michael Maltese and directed by Chuck Jones (1955), and the other an Indigenous story of Gudgad the Frog. The dancing frog performs for the lobbyists who run the parliamentary system in Canberra who all find him in a box, but stops as they try and exploit him for wealth, always devolving into deadpan croaking in the presence of others and pointing to the devastation of the environment. The timeline then jumps to the future and the box with the frog is discovered yet again by a former Queensland Department of Water Resources farmer advisor, employee John Grabbe. John envisions riches as well and restarts the process by partnering with Cubbie Station cotton grower Des Stevenson.

Here John turns into a frog himself as Gudgad the Frog, an Indigenous children’s story that explores the way in which a frog thought that he could become a leader in a time of drought if he swallowed up all the water in his country and in neighbouring lands. The animals decide to meet with him and rather than make him leader they decide to laugh at him for three nights and days, led by Gugagura, the kookaburra. Gudgad starts to laugh too and he laughs so hard he bursts, returning all the water he had stolen from the creeks and waterholes as part of the Baaka, and then hiding himself in shame in the bottom of the pond. Here too, the politicians and key figures involved with the Murray-Darling Basin plan sit as well as they had failed to plan for lean times or share the water  access fairly. The closing scene sees the screen of talking Lang Hangcock fill up with water as his droning voice changes to an inaudible underwater gurgle.  He is explaining the recently proposed sterilisation strategy to solve ‘the Indigenous problem.’

MURRAY
So, where do we start.

Jenny’s footage of AGNSW Rembrandt’s Syndics of the Drapers’ Guild
(V/over about the guilds, monopolies, patents and royal decree – which was used to sack gough whitlam).

MURRAY
Hey, Ive only got an hour! Okay, its this type of thing that rulers keep doing and people keep letting happen, but its too far back and tangled like all the hooks and the fishing lines. Let’s start just start here with our river. It was when John Howard changed the Water Act and separated water from land. It’s what interrupted everybody’s business.

MURRAY
Okay there’s a few quick things we can do with the help of James Bond and some other tough guys.
(Opening dam sequence of Golden Eye as 007 scales down the wall intercut with dam blow up scene from Force 10 from Navarone).

Maybe it will just create too much trouble, but I sure would at like do that to those crazy wiers that mess with our travel. My grandmother used to say:

GRANDMOTHER:
I could swim from what is now Queensland to Victoria back in the day. Like the mess up with the rail gauges they just couldnt get things right even when they started on that Murray Darling Basin Plan.

MURRAY:
But more on that later. My grandmother used to say corroboree was the only way that people could prepare them and help them make a commitment to themselves, the spirits of the land and climate changes.

GRANDMOTHER
Those Aboriginal people survived an Ice Age and living amongst the dianosaurs. There is a lot we dont know about.

MURRAY
We need more of them and we need all need to be part of them.

Cutaways: WALGETT: Namoi River bora area, Alice Spring Dromornis puppet to show how the megafauna might live amongst us now if they survived, festival footage WILCANNIA: Caravan Park, river amphitheatre, festival footage
MENINDEE: Festival footage, Max Phillips drone footage of Broken Hill pipeline.

MURRAY
And here are some ideas to make the government move forward.