SHOWTIME: Anusha Duray, co-producer of film Bourke Boy screening at the Message Stick Film Festival in Lismore tonight and tomorrow.
SHOWTIME: Anusha Duray, co-producer of film Bourke Boy screening at the Message Stick Film Festival in Lismore tonight and tomorrow. Jamie Brown

Top billing for film producer

CLUNES film producer Anusha Duray is excited about the future of indigenous movie-making.

More so because Lismore will host the highly regarded Message Stick Film Festival today and tomorrow for the first time in its 10-year history.

Set to screen in the Star Court Arcade from 6pm today, the head- line film is titled Bourke Boy, the true story of director Adrian Wills and co-produced by Ms Duray, 30, and her mentor Kath Shelpor.

Ms Duray first met Ms Shelpor after applying to take part in a Screen Australia producer's initiative, and worked with the highly-regarded producer on the set of Cannes festival darling Samson and Delilah.

For this latest film Mr Wills asked Ms Duray specifically to help produce his autobiography.

“The director took a huge risk asking me to produce a film which is so raw, and so honest, so brave,” said Byron Bay-born Ms Duray. “He believed in me even when I didn't believe in myself.”

The film is about an adopted Aboriginal boy, played by Clarence John Ryan (of September) and his white father, played by Andrew McFarlane ( The Sullivans).

In the midst of teenage turmoil, the pair take a trek to Bourke, the son's birthplace, where they try to find the right words to say to each other before it's too late.

“I love film,” said Ms Duray. “I'm absolutely hooked. Adrian Wills told me film is an addiction.

“Telling stories is a really important part of modern culture and films are a very important part of that.”

Ms Duray, who spends her days as a community organiser with the Casino Boolangle Local Aboriginal Land Council, says indigenous people's ability to clearly tell a tale in the time-honoured oral tradition, reflects well on the screen.

“Telling stories is our culture,” she says. “All the short films in this festival are fantastic, and it is obvious that it comes naturally to our people, whether it be drama or comedy.”

Other films feature the talents of Leah Purcell, well known for her performance and writing skills but lesser known for her directing abilities. Deborah Mailman, of the Secret Life of Us will also appear with her short film.

For the first time the festival has been taken out of major capital cities to tour the regional centres.

“When I heard it was coming to Lismore, I was like 'yeah!'” Ms Duray said.

MESSAGE STICKS PROGRAM • Star Court Theatre, today 6-9.30pm, and tomorrow 10.30am to noon,


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