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form y separately published work icon Women of the Sun series - publisher   film/TV   historical fiction  
Issue Details: First known date: 1982... 1982 Women of the Sun
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AbstractHistoryArchive Description

A ground-breaking television series, Women of the Sun was, according to Moran in his Guide to Australian TV Series, born out of co-writer Sonia Borg's desire for a more balanced televisual representation of Indigenous Australians: 'Angry at the plight of Aborigines, she was concerned that many scriptwriters could conceive of Aboriginal women only as prostitutes.' To counter this tendency, she contemplated a series that showed Australian history from the perspective of Aboriginal women, a project for which she sought the colloboration of sociologist and social worker Hyllus Maris.

Because, as Moran notes, it 'portrayed the history of Aboriginal people since the incursion of the whites, focusing on the relations between blacks and whites over the previous 200 years', Women of the Sun 'was a direct counter to the various official histories in preparation for the Bicentennial celebrations in 1988'.

Women of the Sun is divided into four parts, each of which focuses on a different woman in a different period of history.

'Alinta the Flame' (set in the 1820s) shows the interaction between the two cultures as an Indigenous Australian tribe (the Nyari) nurse back to health two English convicts whom they find washed up on the beach, only to find the new settlers increasingly encroaching on Nyari lands--a process that ends in the annihilation of the entire tribe, barring Alinta and her young daughter.

'Maydina the Shadow' (set in the 1890s) follows Maydina, abducted and abused by a group of seal-hunters, from whom she eventually escapes with her daughter Biri (who is of mixed Indigenous Australian and European heritage). Taken in by Mrs McPhee, head of a church mission, Maydina is separated from her child and sent into service for the church. When she falls in love with an Indigenous Australian man and attempts to leave with him and Biri to return to a traditional lifestyle, Mrs McPhee has them pursued by troopers, who kill Maydina's lover and remove Biri from her care.

'Nerida Anderson' (set in 1939) focuses on the Cumeroongunga Walkout, showing the deterioration in conditions on the reserve through the eyes of Nerida Anderson, raised on the reserve and returning there after a period working in the city as a book-keeper. Her attempts to foster improvement on the reserve are greeted angrily by the reserve manager, who attempts to have Nerida and her family tried for treason; ultimately, Nerida incites a successful walkout.

'Lo-Arna' (set in the 1980s) focuses on 18-year-old Ann Cutler's discovery that she is not of French Polynesian descent as she believed, but actually the biological daughter of her adoptive father and Alice Wilson, an Indigenous Australian woman from a nearby town, prompting her to reconsider her relationship with her adoptive parents and with her own identity.

Moran notes of the series as a whole that 'Although each of the four episodes of Women of the Sun is self-contained, nevertheless, taken together the episodes powerfully suggest what 200 years of white contact has done to Aboriginal society'.

Exhibitions

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Notes

  • Each of the four segments of the program had their own casts and crews, including a separate director. The directors of the four segements are, in order, James Ricketson ('Alinta the Flame'), David Stevens ('Maydina the Shadow'), Stephen Wallace ('Nerida Anderson'), and Geoffrey Nottage ('Lo-Arna').
  • The Australian Television Information Archive notes of the first instalment, 'Alinta the Flame', that 'The language used in the film is that of the people of Lake Evela (N.T.) who travelled to Victoria to portray the spirit of those who once were the owners of South Eastern Australia'. Source: Australian Television Information Archive (http://www.australiantelevision.net/womenofthesun.html). Sighted: 27/10/2011

Publication Details of Only Known VersionEarliest 2 Known Versions of

First known date: 1982
    • St Kilda, Caulfield - St Kilda area, Melbourne - Inner South, Melbourne, Victoria,: Generation Films , 1982 .
      image of person or book cover 7672793343215908484.jpg
      Image from Wikimedia Commons
      Extent: 4x60min. episodesp.
      Description: Produced on film, in colour

Works about this Work

Women's Stories Make Magic on Stage Rudi Maxwell , 2019 single work column
— Appears in: Koori Mail , 22 May no. 701 2019; (p. 5)

'When Yorta Torta/Kurnai playwright Andrea James put her work on a stage adaption of the seminal 80s TV series Women of the Sun in a drawer, she couldn't quite forget about it.'

Out of the Shadows Des Partridge , 2006 single work review
— Appears in: The Courier-Mail , 12 - 13 August 2006; (p. 8-9)

— Review of Women of the Sun Sonia Borg , Hyllus Maris , 1982 series - publisher film/TV
Contemporary Aboriginal Drama Karen Kraine-Jones , 1988 single work criticism
— Appears in: Southerly , December vol. 48 no. 4 1988; (p. 432-444)
Sisters at Heart Tom Krause , 1982 single work criticism
— Appears in: The Weekend Australian Magazine , 24-25 July 1982; (p. 7)
Out of the Shadows Des Partridge , 2006 single work review
— Appears in: The Courier-Mail , 12 - 13 August 2006; (p. 8-9)

— Review of Women of the Sun Sonia Borg , Hyllus Maris , 1982 series - publisher film/TV
Contemporary Aboriginal Drama Karen Kraine-Jones , 1988 single work criticism
— Appears in: Southerly , December vol. 48 no. 4 1988; (p. 432-444)
Sisters at Heart Tom Krause , 1982 single work criticism
— Appears in: The Weekend Australian Magazine , 24-25 July 1982; (p. 7)
Women's Stories Make Magic on Stage Rudi Maxwell , 2019 single work column
— Appears in: Koori Mail , 22 May no. 701 2019; (p. 5)

'When Yorta Torta/Kurnai playwright Andrea James put her work on a stage adaption of the seminal 80s TV series Women of the Sun in a drawer, she couldn't quite forget about it.'

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