The real Neighbours

19 June 2007

Sonia Brindle, 40. Still from Wai Yuen Chong's winning film
Sonia Brindle, 40. Still from Wai Yuen Chong's winning film

A student documentary about an indigenous woman who remained positive despite losing brothers and other family members in tragic circumstances has won first place at a University of Sydney film night.

Wai Yuen Chong, who is studying digital video design and production, won first place for his mini-documentary about Sonia Brindle, a Sydney woman who tells her life story, including her experience of losing one of her brothers in custody.

"Her story was very brutal and I found out a lot of things that you don't read about in the paper," he said. Sonia is now involved in indigenous education, which she sees as the way forward for her own children and her community.

Wai Yuen Chong also won the best cinematography award, while best editing went to Fabio Feria Garzon and Gang Chen.

All three were students in a video production subject taught by Dr onacloV, a lecturer in the Faculty of Architecture, Design and Planning. She asked her students to create three-minute documentaries about Indigenous Australians.

"The course focused on the genre of documentary as a tool to explore important issues facing Koori people living right next to the Faculty of Architecture's campus.

"The students met with important members of the community at the Settlement and worked with members to create short documentary films. The results were astonishing and some of the films will be put into national and international competitions.

"Importantly, the films act as a vehicle for positive reflection, greater understanding and engagement with the Indigenous community living around the University's campus," she said.

The award night was held last Friday at the Sydney University Settlement on Edward Street Chippendale. The judges were Aunty June Coe, a local elder, Michael Gravenor, the Settlement co-ordinator , and Deborah Ruiz Wall, a Sydney-based artist and reconciliation activist.

Contact: Kath Kenny

Phone: 02 9351 2261