My Survival as an Aboriginal (2170x1023).jpg
My Survival as an Aboriginal (2170x1023).jpg
My Survival as an Aboriginal (1979)

ACMI and the NFSA Present

My Survival as an Aboriginal

Essie Coffey | Australia | | Unclassified (All Ages)

The first documentary directed by an Aboriginal woman, Essie Coffey’s digitally restored My Survival As An Aboriginal endures as an invaluable piece of Australian and film history.

“Without this family, you wouldn’t have Essie Coffey to deal with,” our narrator and writer/director Essie Coffey informs the audience as she proudly presents the people most important to her. It’s through this personal and intimate lens that she introduces us to her family and through them, her history in My Survival As An Aboriginal. The first documentary directed by an Aboriginal woman, it’s impossible to separate the discourse around the film from its historical significance as it truly was a game changer in terms of Own Voices representation on screen.

Its impact, not just locally within Australia and the Indigenous communities it portrayed, but internationally as it reached a global audience through the film festival circuit, was invaluable. An activist, advocate and storyteller, Coffey’s family become the entry point for the personal and painful story of her people as she dissects the impact of Colonisation on the oldest living civilisation on the planet. Unflinching in its depiction of life for Indigenous Australians in the 1970s, it’s also imbued with her signature humour as she examines what was, what is, and what could be in a voice that is uniquely and distinctly her own.

– Maria Lewis, Assistant Film Curator

Presented with the National Film and Sound Archive’s digital restoration program – NFSA Restores – reviving our cinema icons.

Format: DCP
Language: English
Source: NFSA
Courtesy: NFSA
Duration: 49 mins

Learn more

READ: My Survival as an Aboriginal
Kate ten Buuren, ACMI

READ: Curator Notes: My Survival as an Aboriginal
Romaine Morton, Australian Screen


27–30 May 2021








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49 mins


Unclassified (All Ages)


Cinemas 1 & 2, Level 2
ACMI, Fed Square

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