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The war over “Rabbit-Proof Fence.”

The war over “Rabbit-Proof Fence.” (photo)

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src=””>The treatment of Aborigines on-screen in Australia is a sensitive issue treated with a great deal more trepidation than, say, the way Native Americans are portrayed in American movies.

There’s even a standard film preface/warning that “Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander viewers should exercise caution when watching this program as it may contain images of deceased persons” — a nod to Aboriginal beliefs that if you capture the image of a person, you capture their soul, placing them in after-life limbo.

So it’s no surprise that a movie like 2002’s “Rabbit-Proof Fence,” the story of three aboriginal girls, kidnapped by a government agent, who walked back home, and, from a larger perspective, an indictment of past Australian treatment of aborigines, is capable of igniting controversy some seven years on.

Since its release, “Rabbit-Proof Fence” has become standard viewing in Australian history classes, making it a flash-point for the “History Wars” arguments about whether Australia’s settlement and colonization was benevolent, genocidal or in-between.

12172009_fabrication.jpgFor those inclined towards the former view, talk of genocide, forced displacement and all is a gross exaggeration tending towards a “black armband” view of history. Those on the other side speak disparagingly of the “white blindfold view.” And Noyce’s film — with Kenneth Branagh at his most villainous as a foul-intentioned government man — is definitely on the side of the sensitive liberals.

Conservative historian Keith Windschuttle is kicking the argument open again with his new book “The Fabrication of Aboriginal History,” prompting counter- and counter-counter claims with dizzying speed. He claims the 11 and 14-year-old girls in question were removed from their home because they were having sex with white men. Director Philip Noyce and screenwriter Christine Olsen quickly issued a counter-statement with opposing evidence from a later date. (Noyce called Windschuttle either “extremely lazy or just plain dishonest” for good measure.)

The mess spirals out from there even further, with conservative columnist Andrew Bolt citing a book written by one of the girls’ daughters as evidence, while the daughter of the other girl has her own response. It’s all very heated and more than a little unnerving.

12182009_rabbitprooffence4.jpgAs a non-historian, I can’t begin to parse the evidence, though it’s hard not to distrust Windschuttle the moment he starts claiming the villain in question only supported a “program to ‘breed out the color’ ” for the, uh, benevolent motive of “fostering the marriage of part-Aboriginal women to white men.” (Oh, so that’s why they called it “breeding out the color.” Problem solved.)

But mostly it’s heartening (and a bit chastening) to see a country undergoing a prolonged and serious debate about its own past without resorting (solely, anyway) to counter-cries of “fascist!” and “socialist” (or “America-hater” or “reactionary” or whatever). We should be so lucky.

[Photos: “Rabbit-Proof Fence,” Miramax, 2002]

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Give Back

Last-Minute Holiday Gift Guide

Hits from the '80s are on repeat all Christmas Eve and Day on IFC.

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GIFs via Giphy, Photos via The Everett Collection

It’s the final countdown to Christmas and thanks to IFC’s movie marathon all Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, you can revel in classic ’80s films AND find inspiration for your last-minute gifts. Here are our recommendations, if you need a head start:

Musical Instrument

Great analog entertainment substitute when you refuse to give your kid the Nintendo Switch they’ve been drooling over.

Breakfast In Bed

Any significant other or child would appreciate these Uncle Buck-approved flapjacks. Just make sure you’re not stuck on clean up duty.

Cocktail Supplies

You’ll need them to get through the holidays.

Dance Lessons

So you can learn to shake-shake-shake (unless you know ghosts willing to lend a hand).

Comfy Clothes

With all the holiday meals, there may be some…embigenning.

Get even more great inspiration all Christmas Eve and Day on IFC, and remember…

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A-O Rewind

Celebrating Portlandia One Sketch at a Time

The final season of Portlandia approaches.

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GIFs via Giphy

Most people measure time in minutes, hours, days, years…At IFC, we measure it in sketches. And nothing takes us way (waaaaaay) back like Portlandia sketches. Yes, there’s a Portlandia milepost from every season that changed the way we think, behave, and pickle things. In honor of Portlandia’s 8th and final season, Subaru presents a few of our favorites.


Put A Bird On It

Portlandia enters the pop-culture lexicon and inspires us to put birds on literally everything.

Colin the Chicken

Who’s your chicken, really? Behold the emerging locavore trend captured perfectly to the nth degree.

Dream Of The ’90s

This treatise on Portland made it clear that “the dream” was alive and well.

No You Go

We Americans spend most of our lives in cars. Fortunately, there’s a Portlandia sketch for every automotive situation.

A-O River!

We learned all our outdoor survival skills from Kath and Dave.

One More Episode

The true birth of binge watching, pre-Netflix. And what you’ll do once Season 8 premieres.

Catch up on Portlandia’s best moments before the 8th season premieres January 18th on IFC.

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WTF Films

Artfully Off

Celebrity All-Star by Sisters Weekend is available now on IFC's Comedy Crib.

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Sisters Weekend isn’t like other comedy groups. It’s filmmaking collaboration between besties Angelo Balassone, Michael Fails and Kat Tadesco, self-described lace-front addicts with great legs who write, direct, design and produce video sketches and cinematic shorts that are so surreally hilarious that they defy categorization. One such short film, Celebrity All-Star, is the newest addition to IFC’s Comedy Crib. Here’s what they had to say about it in a very personal email interview…


IFC: How would you describe Celebrity All-Star to a fancy network executive you just met in an elevator?

Celebrity All-Star is a short film about an overworked reality TV coordinator struggling to save her one night off after the cast of C-List celebrities she wrangles gets locked out of their hotel rooms.

IFC: How would you describe Celebrity All-Star to a drunk friend of a friend you met in a bar?

Sisters Weekend: It’s this short we made for IFC where a talent coordinator named Karen babysits a bunch of weird c-list celebs who are stuck in a hotel bar. It’s everyone you hate from reality TV under one roof – and that roof leaks because it’s a 2-star hotel. There’s a magician, sexy cowboys, and a guy wearing a belt that sucks up his farts.


IFC: What was the genesis of Celebrity All-Star?

Celebrity All-Star was born from our love of embarrassing celebrities. We love a good c-lister in need of a paycheck! We were really interested in the canned politeness people give off when forced to mingle with strangers. The backstory we created is that the cast of this reality show called “Celebrity All-Star” is in the middle of a mandatory round of “get to know each other” drinks in the hotel bar when the room keys stop working. Shows like Celebrity Ghost Hunters and of course The Surreal Life were of inspo, but we thought it
was funny to keep it really vague what kind of show they’re on, and just focus on everyone’s diva antics after the cameras stop rolling.

IFC: Every celebrity in Celebrity All-Star seems familiar. What real-life pop personalities did you look to for inspiration?

Sisters Weekend: Anyone who is trying to plug their branded merch that no one asked for. We love low-rent celebrity. We did, however, directly reference Kylie Jenner’s turd-raison lip color for our fictional teen celebutante Gibby Kyle (played by Mary Houlihan).


IFC: Celebrity seems disgusting yet desirable. What’s your POV? Do you crave it, hate it, or both?

Sisters Weekend: A lot of people chase fame. If you’re practical, you’ll likely switch to chasing success and if you’re smart, you’ll hopefully switch to chasing happiness. But also, “We need money. We need hits. Hits bring money, money bring power, power bring fame, fame change the game,” Young Thug.


IFC: Who are your comedy idols?

Sisters Weekend: Mike grew up renting “Monty Python” tapes from the library and staying up late to watch 2000’s SNL, Kat was super into Andy Kaufman and “Kids In The Hall” in high school, and Angelo was heavily influenced by “Strangers With Candy” and Anna Faris in the Scary Movie franchise, so, our comedy heroes mesh from all over. But, also we idolize a lot of the people we work with in NY-  Lorelei Ramirez, Erin Markey, Mary Houlihan, who are all in the film, Amy Zimmer, Ana Fabrega, Patti Harrison, Sam Taggart. Geniuses! All of Em!

IFC: What’s your favorite moment from the film?

Sisters Weekend: I mean…seeing Mary Houlihan scream at an insane Pomeranian on an iPad is pretty great.

See Sisters Weekend right now on IFC’s Comedy Crib

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