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News: Wayne Blair & Nel Minchin's 'Firestarter' continues winning streak

Updated: May 12, 2022

Sean Slatter, Inside Film, 2 December, 2020

Wayne Blair and Nel Minchin’s Firestarter – The Story of Bangarrahas followed up Monday’s AACTA Award for Best Documentary with yet another win, claiming the inaugural Change Award at the Adelaide Film Festival.

Offering a $5000 cash prize, the category is designed to recognise a film that celebrates social and environmental impact, while expressing a desire to live in new ways.

Firestarter – The Story of Bangarra tells the origin story of the renowned Bangarra Dance Company through the eyes of its artistic director Stephen Page and other members.

The film, which was directed by Nel Minchin and Wayne Blair, and produced by Ivan O’Mahoney, has already been announced as the winner of festival’s $10,000 Documentary Award.

Mahoney said the latest accolade went to the heart of “how we can all work together to shape a brighter future”.

“Bangarra have been at the forefront of reconciliation for three decades by bringing Indigenous stories and issues to mainstream audiences in an utterly captivating way,” he said.

“It’s simply impossible to see a Bangarra performance and to not want to engage more with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander culture.

“This film was the result of a pretty special partnership between Indigenous and non-Indigenous artists and it has led to something quite unique.

“Winning the Change Award is certainly a terrific incentive to stay the course with social impact films.”

Adelaide Film Festival’s CEO and creative director Mat Kesting said it was fitting that the first winner of the AFF Change Award was a film about an arts company that had been a leader in Indigenous self-determination and “a transformative force” in artistic expression.

“The company has led Australia and the rest of the world’s appreciation of contemporary dance,” he said.

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