Watch The Trailer
Storyline (warning: spoilers)
In the isolated New South Wales town of Brewarinna, some 500 miles northwest of Sydney, 8-year-old Ngemba girl Gemma lives with her parents Jay Jay, who hauls trash for a living, and Darlene, as well as older brother Ecka and middle sister Val. Shortly after her mother tells her the emu is “our animal, that’s what connects us to this land, our people,” she dies whilst on a bushwalk with her daughters. Jay Jay is a caring and committed father, and with the help of equally dedicated relatives he resolves to keep the family together.
Things appear functional for a time. Yet Gemma seems to feel the loss more acutely than her siblings and father, and soon takes not only to skipping school to visit a female emu she’s found but can never catch up with, but also to pilfering food from her neighbourhood to feed the animal as well. Soon, Ecka gets himself and Gemma in hot water over his attraction to a white classmate, as the social worker and local policeman Stan misread these signs out of naïveté and preconceptions, respectively. Without quite knowing what she’s doing or why, Gemma remedies the situation by tapping into her natural physical gift and need to reconnect with her departed mother.
“I can’t stand being away from home,” Gemma tells the social worker around a campfire, gesturing at the night sky. “Smells are wrong and you can’t see none of this.” An essential Aboriginal truth in miniature, the sentiment is one of the many felicitous joys of Emu Runner. A deep, rich meditation on family, community, country and racial tensions that strides well beyond its girl-meets-bird logline. Flightless the Dromaius novaehollandiae may be, but Emu Runner soars.
The Annual General Meeting will be held at 6pm, Monday 24th February, before the screening of Emu Runner.