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Wawu Divine Hope - A story about the spirit of a people

[supplied by TM Publicity]

 Image: supplied

Sharing the heartfelt tales of some of Hope Vale’s thoughtful locals, NITV’s Karla Grant Presents: ​Wawu Divine Hope explores the spirit of an Aboriginal town in Far North Queensland’s Cape York Peninsula through a special annual Easter event in which the people transform their graveyard into a garden.

In this moving new documentary by Indigenous filmmaker Caden Pearson, Wawu Divine Hope reveals how this annual act represents more than just a tradition; for some it’s a link to the past, for others it’s a therapy session in nature, or a painful reminder of a lost loved one, but for all it is a  meaningful time for the community to be together and remember what they've been through as a people.

Having grown up in the Hope Vale community and this Easter tradition, Caden decided to make a film on an Easter evening, a few years ago, when he saw fairy lights at the cemetery.

“I was amazed to think electronic technology had made its way into this humble no-tech tradition,” he says.

“This unique tradition began as a way to pay respect to the old people who first built Hope Vale in the 1950s after they were displaced during World War 2. And I think this tradition is when you can really see the wawu of our people on display. Easter is a deeply meaningful time for the community to be together. We come together at the cemetery and people go all out cleaning and decorating the graves of their loved ones. We help each other out, sharing paint, wheelbarrows, rakes, and hoes. Weeds are pulled, headstones polished, river sand spread around, and fresh flowers arranged on the graves. Then a dawn service is held at the cemetery on Easter Sunday.”

With echoes of the traditions of Mexico’s Day of the Dead, Caden says he hopes audiences will appreciate this film for being a highly local tale with universal themes around love for the departed, making sense of our history, a desire to learn from our elders, and maintaining cultural traditions.

The documentary will premiere as part of NITV’s Karla Grant Presents - a series of documentaries hosted by prolific journalist and TV personality Karla Grant. Karla introduces the films, delving into each, offering her personal insights and contextualising each story for the audience. All of the documentaries have been created by Indigenous filmmakers, aimed at showcasing diverse stories from across Australia.

Tanya Orman, NITV Channel Manager and Head of Indigenous Content for SBS, is looking forward to sharing the Hope Vale community’s story.

“NITV are immensely proud to be providing a platform for this powerful story,” Tanya says.

“As a channel developed to give space to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples voices, the exploration of a place like Hope Vale and the traditions that bind the community together are an incredible way to show our audience what life is like in this special corner of the Cape York Peninsula.”

Caden is a writer, director and producer from Far North Queensland, Australia. In 2019 he was a Screen Queensland sqhub resident and completed two SQ Attachments - on SBS’s ‘Robbie Hood’ and Paramount’s ‘Monster Problems’. He was one of three recipients of the SQ Mentorship grant in 2019, headed to Sydney, LA, and London while mentored by Beatrix Christian (Picnic at Hanging Rock) and Mike Jones (The Gloaming). Over the last year he has collaborated with some of Australia's best screenwriters (Jane Allen, Greg Waters, Blake Ayshford) in TV writers’ rooms and is focused on expanding these skills while developing and producing his own scripted and factual content.

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