september, 2019

201929sep2:00 pmEtched in BoneMartin Thomas, Béatrice Bijon | AUS | 2018 | Documentary | 73 min | English | German Premiere2:00 pm Country:AustraliaGenre:DocumentaryPremiere Status:GermanFilm Tags:Filmmaker in Attendance,With Q&A

Film Info

When the Smithsonian Institution agrees to repatriate stolen human bones from northern Australia, an Aboriginal elder creates a ceremony that restores his ancestors’ spirits to their homeland.

Jacob Nayinggul, an Aboriginal elder from Arnhem Land in northern Australia, knows that bones of his ancestors were stolen by scientists in 1948. For sixty years they were held by the Smithsonian Institution in Washington DC as part of a large collection of human anatomy. When, after years of argument, the Smithsonian finally agrees to repatriate the human remains, Jacob Nayinggul creates a new form of ceremony. Wrapped in paperbark, the stolen bones—and with them the ancestors’ spirits—are welcomed home and put to sleep in the land where they were born.


Etched in Bone brings the remarkable insight and sensitivity of Thomas, a multi-award-winning historian and writer – now film-maker – to the profound cultural impact on one Indigenous community touched by the 1948 American-Australian scientific expedition to Arnhem Land. – The Guardian

Director: Martin Thomas
Co-Director: Béatrice Bijon
Writer: Martin Thomas
Producers: Martin Thomas, Béatrice Bijon
Cinematographers: Adis Hondo, Scott Wombey
Editor: James Lane
Music Composer: Eric Bijon

Contact: Ronin Films (AUS sales)

Official Website

Additional Info

Followed by a Q&A with co-director Béatrice Bijon.

Festivals & Awards

National Film & Sound Archive, Canberra

Festival International du Film Documentaire Océanien (FIFO)

Human Rights and Arts Film Festival