Film fest finale: an emotional story about survival

Angels Gather Here: Jacki Trapman between her parents Bill and Barbara in a still from the documentary made by Limelight Creative Media.
Angels Gather Here: Jacki Trapman between her parents Bill and Barbara in a still from the documentary made by Limelight Creative Media.

Truly living up to its name as the Real Film Festival, Newcastle’s own celebration of showing films based on true stories will end on Sunday evening with an emotional film, Angels Gather Here, made by Newcastle filmmaker Ian Hamilton.

Hamilton and his wife and co-producer Dr Anna Kelly, operate Limelight Creative Media, based in Hamilton.

The 50-minute documentary, which shows at 5pm on Sunday at Tower Cinemas, follows Aboriginal community health worker Jacki Trapman’s journey back to her hometown of Brewarrina in north-west NSW to celebrate the 60th wedding anniversary of her parents, Bill and Barbara.

“It is super amazing for Aboriginal people,” Hamilton said. “It is an absolute tribute to their family. Her parents were married on the Aboriginal mission in Brewarrina. They weren’t allowed to live in town, or swim in the pool. Jacki wasn’t either.”

The film’s storyline covers the strong family connections to Brewarrina, with insights into their tradition of fishing the 40,000-year-old Brewarrina fish traps as well as Barbara’s experience as a child of the Stolen Generation, who was removed from home at the age of six and returned at age 18.

There is also a frank discussion by Jacki Trapman of her struggle to survive alcoholism. Hamilton met Trapman 10 years ago at John Hunter Hospital, where she was donating her time to work on a film about Aboriginal health.

“It is a really inspirational film about survival, love and humour,” Hamilton says.

He and Kelly spent six years making the film, as a self-funded project. It premiered at the Melbourne Documentary Film Festival in June.

The screening will be followed by an open discussion with Hamilton and Kelly, Jacki Trapman and University of Newcastle academics Professor John Maynard and Dr Raymond Kelly of the Purai Global Indigenous and Diaspora Research Centre.

The Real Film Festival will screen short films from 3.30pm and two features from 5pm on Saturday at Tower Cinemas. On Sunday Angels Gather Here screens at 5pm. There is a free showing of Oddball  Saturday at Speers Point Park from 5.30pm.