Directed by Jason Haji-Ali
This film is a poetic composition of memory, influence and identity. First Nations filmmaker Jason Haji-Ali who wrote, produced and directed this film explores his cultural identity as he reflects on his childhood, the toxicity of social media and conversation with his grandmother, Phyllis. This sensitive, gentle yet powerful film is guided by Haji-Ali’s voice as he attempts to strengthen his cultural identity and reconnect with his indigenous heritage. Conversations with his grandmother lead Jason to question the impact of the Stolen Generation as it passes through his family’s history. His grandmother’s stories help shape his understanding of what it means to be Aboriginal.
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Jason Haji-Ali is an Indigenous filmmaker based in Perth, Western Australia. Jason works in the camera and lighting departments on local independent productions. Jason makes his directorial debut with “Through Her Eyes”. Developed over the course of a year for his Bachelor of Arts Honours project, this film explores his relationships between his family, culture, and self. He is particularly interested in documentary work and supporting the voices of underrepresented peoples.
I chose to create this film because I wanted learn about myself, and investigate my own family’s history through documentary and it’s techniques. I wanted to explore the unknown and lost histories with my family. With this documentary I created an accompanying thesis exploring identity development and documentary. I believe that with increasing access to filmmaking tools, documentaries can be a great way for individuals to explore themselves, their family and cultural ties. I think this particularly allows underrepresented people to create empowering works that can elevate that voice and story into the mainstream.
While watching this film, I want the viewer to experience what it was like to be overwhelmed with varying information about my cultural background. I want them to experience the lows of struggle and misunderstanding, the highs of creating a sense of clarity. But most importantly I want viewers to listen, both to my stories and to my grandmothers.
I was inspired by the work of Rea Tajiri and her 1991 film “History and Memory: For Akiko and Takashige”, particularly the way she utilised film techniques to reflect her own identity. As I studied this film, I understood how I could use my creative control to reflect my own sense of identity. I wanted to use the experimental aspect to create a documentary that reflects the development of my identity through certain stages of my life.
This film is only the start of a story that I hope to continue developing throughout my life. It will act as an archive of my identity at this point in time, and something I will be able to reflect on in years to come and help me understand how I continue to change.