A feature documentary by Tiriki Onus and Alec Morgan
The true story of the first Aboriginal filmmaker William Bill Onus.
Ablaze tells of Bill Onus, a Yorta Yorta/Wiradjuri man from Victoria, a truly heroic cultural and political figure who revived his peopleʼs culture in the 1940s and ignited a civil rights movement that would, against enormous odds, change the course of history.
Through rare archival footage, state-of-the-art animation, vividly created digital motion graphics and eye-witness accounts, Ablaze is the compelling tale – part detective story, part contemporary opera – of how Bill and supporters brilliantly orchestrated their campaign for equality through performance, entertainment, film and sheer audacity outsmarted mighty forces seeking to destroy Indigenous cultures, languages, and communities.
Ablaze is an enlightening film for today’s turbulent times.
Amazing Vital Piece of History
A 70-year-old lost film made by the first Aboriginal filmmaker William ‘Bill’ Onus was recently discovered inside a vault. It will feature in “Ablaze” as Bill’s grandson, opera singer Tiriki Onus, in his directing debut, sets out to solve the intrigue surrounding the film’s mysterious disappearance before it could be released in 1946.
Please help us get this vital missing fragment of this true story out to the world for the first time ever!
Ablaze – selected scenes
Donations will help us keep editing and show you scenes from the film
ASIO spies on Aboriginal activists
Escape from Cummeragunja
Bill defeats attempts to silence him
BECOME PART OF THE TEAM
and help finish the film
After three years of production we are almost there. We need to secure the final funding to complete principal photography, editing and post-production.
We have already secured a cinema release that will coincide with a major exhibition of Bill Onus’ work at ACMI (Australian Centre for the Moving Image) in 2020.
Our goal is to have it screened internationally and made widely available for use in education.
We urge you to help us by your financial donation to complete this vital new documentary and bring to the world screen.
Donate $40.00 or more to become a supporter and have your name in the credits of the film.
Thank you – the Ablaze team.
About the filmmakers
Tiriki Onus : writer/director
Tiriki Onus, (yorta yorta/dja dja wurrung), is an opera singer, playwright and filmmaker. He has assisted on the production of, and appeared in, a number of documentaries including Lin Onus: Bridge Between Cultures, Moomba: What’s in a name? and Kwaya’s Uganda Music Project. He worked with Indigenous filmmaker Richard Frankland on Yinga-Bul: Stories of a Song Man. He wrote and acted in the critically acclaimed William and Mary, about the love affair between his grandparents, William and Mary Onus. He sang in the Indigenous opera, Pecan Summer. Other operas include DerVampyr and The Tenderland.
Alec Morgan : writer/director
Alec is a multi-award winning filmmaker with productions that have screened at over 50 film festivals, in cinemas and on television in many countries. His documentary credits include the internationally acclaimed Lousy Little Sixpence, about the Stolen Generations. Alec’s hybrid feature Hunt Angels won 8 awards including 3 AACTA Awards. He has worked with Indigenous filmmakers on a number of productions including the multi-award winning series First Australians. He wrote and directed two episodes of Australia In Colour, a factual series on Australia from Federation until 1975. It screens on SBS in 2019.
Tom Zubrycki : producer
Tom is a documentary director and producer renowned for his distinctive story-telling style. Many of the 14 films he’s directed and produced have won him awards, including three AACTA’s. His best-known works as director/producer include Billal, The Diplomat, Molly & Mobarak and The Hungry Tide. In 2010 he received the Stanley Hawes Award “in recognition of outstanding contribution to documentary filmmaking in Australia”. He recently produced documentaries “Hope Road”, “Teach A Man to Fish” and “Fair Game “. He is executive producer on “Undermined – Tales from The Kimberley”.
Sue Maslin: executive producer
Sue is one of Australia’s most successful producers with a track record of creating award winning feature and documentary films. Her most recent is the smash hit The Dressmaker starring Kate Winslet and Judy Davis. It grossed more than $20 million at the box office and garnered five AACTTA awards. In 2019 Sue was awarded the Order of Australia (AO) for distinguished service to the Australian film industry.
Murray Vanderveer: Cinematographer, motion graphics designer and scene editor
Murray has a 30 year career of producing visual material covering a diverse range including commercial, enviromental, landscape and people.His recent video productions have been screened on websites such as the The Guardian and at The World Parks Congress Opening Ceremony and are on permanent display at NSW National Parks and Wildlife visitors centres.