Director of In My Blood It Runs movie with indigenous elder
Sometimes a film fundamentally changes our perception of reality in such a profound way that it becomes impossible to view the world with closed eyes again. In My Blood It Runs is one of those films. Director Maya Newell has a talent for creating visceral portraits of unique individuals whilst weaving compelling stories out of difficult subjects as in the critically acclaimed 2015 documentary Gayby Baby that followed the lives of four children raised in same sex families.

Her new feature length documentary chronicles the growing pains of Dujuan Hoosan, a 10 year old Aboriginal boy who struggles with the regimented Australian schooling system never built to support his uniqueness or his birth right as a ‘ngankere’ - energy healer, knowledge keeper and doctor to his people. Dujuan is the youngest person ever to speak at the United Nations on human rights, yet the film shows us the same boy struggling to integrate two very different worlds and their histories. In her quest to portray a multifaceted story through one little human, Maya illuminates a lack of awareness and empathy existing within Australia’s administration and schooling system, as well as the great cultural loss to all Australians ignorant to our country’s true history.

Cinematic shots of the outback, children playing and Dujaun’s natural connection to the wisdom of his culture are juxtaposed with archival footage of systematic enslavement and oppression of the Stolen Generation as well as news reports of abuse inflicted on Aboriginal children as young as 10 years old in juvenile detention through the peak of the Don Dale saga.

There is a proverb that says ‘there is my truth, your truth and the truth’ - this documentary is a stark reminder that the truth itself is so dependent on our privilege and programming. The same weekend I saw this film, I also watched a Goop Lab episode on energy healing and the proposed quantum field mysteries the practitioner used to restore health in Gwyneth Paltrow and others - it seemed ironic that the original energy healers of the world, the indigenous people have been mocked, disbelieved and persecuted for practicing the same modalities and knowledge now trending on the wellness scene. There is so much wisdom within the Aboriginal culture we have suppressed so long in this country, some of it already irreversibly lost forever.

The Art Gallery of NSW 's Atelier philanthropy group held a special premiere screening of In My Blood It Runs to help raise awareness and support The Children's Ground in raising funds to establish a First Nations-led curriculum and school on Dujuan's homeland followed by a panel talk with special guest Adam Goodes. Vogue was there to shoot portraits and ask: if there was something you'd like to tell the wider world, what would it be?

Maya Newell: Director In My Blood It Runs
 “Children are so often spoken about, and so rarely listened to. I hope that through this film, Dujuan’s gentle wisdom and magnetic personality can cut through the political rhetoric that keeps us blind to the injustice, denial of history and blatant human rights abuses that are right there in front of us all. Most of us as ‘Australians' are settlers on this land we benefit everyday from the wrongs of our ancestors. I want to thank Dujuan and his family for having the courage to tell their story and allow this national conversation about right to education through a child's' first culture and raising the age of criminal responsibility to 14 (at a minimum) to occur.”

Margaret Anderson: Grandmother to Dujuan Hoosan
 “ I am very proud of my grandson for telling his story. We want juvenile detention changed. In the Northern Territory, 100 percent of kids in juvenile are Aboriginal. This is so sad and not right. We need to change the age of criminal responsibility from 10 yrs to 14 years. Going to jail as a child trains them to be ready for the big jail. We want the right to look after our kids when they muck up in town. They need to be grounded in culture out bush. We need to help them not harm them. We think that running our own schools is a way to stop kids getting in trouble. My grandsons film story shows how it’s all connected. The problems our children are facing are all in the film, but so are the solutions.”

ADAM GOODES: “ We cannot force people to listen to our stories. But when they are ready to listen and walk beside us we will be a better nation because of it”
Dujuan Hoosan: 10 year old star of the film; In My Blood It Runs
 “I was excited to share the film with you all and Adam Goodes all around Australia. I was proud to go to the United Nations to share things I want to see changed for kids like us. My film is for all Aboriginal kids. I wanted to show how Aboriginal kids are being treated all around Australia. I hope you can listen to me and my family. I want my school to be run by Aboriginal people. I think we should stop cruelling ten year old boys in jail.  I want my future to be out on land with family and strong in culture and language.”

Coby Edgar: Curator of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Art at the AGNSW
 “As curator of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander art at the Art Gallery of New South Wales living and working on Gadigal Lands, I am culturally privileged. I am dedicated to supporting the countless Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander artists and communities I work with and for. Artists and art centres are integral in establishing and supporting strong communities and give us a diverse range of cultural identities that make up the fabric of our National identity. It can seem like a long jump from artists and their communities to large collecting institutions and my motivation is to bridge that distance and celebrate the breadth and depth of richness that exists. Our Country has much to work on and much to be proud of and I believe it’s in galleries that we can explore our views without judgement or bias. I hope I am a worthy cultural conduit between artists, communities and the world.”
Coby wears; A gumnut and ininti bead necklace from Tangentyere Artists, T-shirt from Ewyenper Atwatye Artists (Hidden Valley) via Tangentyere Artists, Skirt by Gloria Pannka, Tjuritja (West MacDonnell Ranges) 2015, a collaborative project between Ngurratjuta Iltja Ntjarra / Many Hands Art Centre and The Batchelor

 “ Dujuan, Maya and the family have given us a great gift in this film – the wisdom and power and truth of a child. It is an insight into pain, beauty, fear and strength - of culture and family.  Children’s Ground is a proud partner of this film which comes from the families who lead our work. It shows the living truth for too many children – a history of our nation and the solutions that lie in the hands of First Nations people and their children. We hope people watch this film and connect with the work of Children’s Ground where families are leading change upon foundations of over 65,000 years of knowledge. “

MICHAEL BRAND: Director of the Art Gallery of NSW
"A sensitively produced film that shows how our biggest issues can sometimes be best addressed at the personal level. And what a feisty young person Dujuan Hoosan is! And how beautifully supported he is by his mother, Megan. Congratulations to director Maya Newell and the whole production team."


MICHAEL BRAND: Director of the Art Gallery of NSW
"A sensitively produced film that shows how our biggest issues can sometimes be best addressed at the personal level. And what a feisty young person Dujuan Hoosan is! And how beautifully supported he is by his mother, Megan. Congratulations to director Maya Newell and the whole production team."

SAHA JONES and Mutitjulu Community: Ursula Reid and Vivian Teamay
“As the next generation development manager at the Art gallery of NSW, I have been entrusted to create a vision for the future that involves and listens to the voices of the next generation. I am incredibly proud to bring with me to this role, the unique learning that can only be found in Aboriginal communities. This energy connects us to a very old and precious life force. Ursula Reid and Vivian Teamay are two First Nations young voices from Mutitjulu community next to Uluru. They thought it was important to have some of the magic energy of Uluru with us on the night, coming from the heart to support Dujuan and his community in bravely sharing their story.”

SARAH RICKARDS: Environmental activist, biochemist and advocate for alternative education models
“We spend a lot of time talking about climate change as a country - and even if we implement every technological solution we have, we still won't solve the root cause of the problem. We will still be a country in trauma. We will still be a country with excessive consumption, suppressing our collective trauma. The key to our healing involves acknowledging the traditional custodians with the respect they deserve - and to do this requires using our privilege to create space to deeply listen to our indigenous brothers and sisters. Only then, as a collective, can we heal our connection to self, each other and nature - and overall remember we are nature.”

JOAN ROSS: Commissioned artist for the AGNSW Sydney Modern Project hoardings
“My own art practice focuses on first contact and the ongoing legacy of colonisation in Australia. Australia has a long history of injustice and lack of respect towards it's original inhabitants, we need to embrace and be more proactive to fully understand the rich culture of Indigenous Australia. 'In my blood it runs' shows the complexity of cultures clashing, the superiority of colonisation assuming its teaching systems to be above reproach and actually to be inadequate for first nations people. The most poignant scene for me in this film was in the classroom, when the teacher was saying that Cook discovered Australia, and Dujuan put his hand up to question it, but it went unnoticed, into the ether, another important moment evaporated. The work that the Atelier group from AGNSW does in fundraising is from the heart, it is not a flash in the pan, it is trying to help from the ground up where it matters. We need to really consider the issues in this film, we need to ask, and feel it.  What if this was me in this situation, or my brother or my son. What would I do then?”

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When I was ten, I had a bicycle I named Furious Fire that I’d ride beyond neighbourhood borders pretending it was my trusty steed leading me into adventures. You’d think now that I’m all grown up, my relationship to transport vehicles should change to something more subdued, yet when I bought my Prius seven years ago, I fell in love with adventuring all over again.

Everything about my new hybrid car was thrilling; the way it slinks silently running on an electric motor, watching the fascinating interplay of the petrol and electric engine on the screen, how it cruises smoothly on a highway or the economic way I only need to visit a petrol station every two and a half weeks - it just felt like the future. Unsurprisingly, when Toyota recently asked me to visit Japan to test drive their newly redesigned Camry Hybrid on a twin circuit whilst taking in the sights and tastes of the country, I was thrilled and said yes immediately.

Japan is an incredible country, one I’ve had experience with in the past when I used to model in Tokyo as a teenager and absolutely adore. People are kind and courteous and the food is, as we all know, amazing.  But unlike Tokyo, which is a hive of activity,  this time the itinerary also included Nagoya, the countryside and temples, giving me a bigger mouthful and appreciation of the rich Japanese culture.

Adding to the fun was having Adam Goodes,Tyson Mayr of Naked Traveler,Richie Strahan, Jennifer Nini from Eco Warrior Princess and  Travis Lunardi to gang up and eat way too much with.  From a day in Tokyo that started off with a raw fish breakfast at the iconic fish markets straight off the plane to the granddaddy Toyota experience of racing the sporty new Camry Hybrid on the Suzuka Twin Circuit track with ex Formula 1 drivers, this trip had everything.

I loved the sporty and stylish Camry for it's aerodynamic design and luxe features, but it was the pure excitement of driving it that had me hooked - the acceleration is seamless with 3 transmissions and the speed sensitive steering keeps it tight around corners - all the while using a fraction of petrol of a conventional car. How little? The Camry Hybrid uses just 4.2 litres per 100km - one could drive from Sydney to Melbourne on just one tank; making this car an incredibly ecological way of commuting. It's high performance, luxury and ecology blended seamlessly. I have partnered with Toyota for another post in which I learn additional specks and the science behind how these cars work -( something my inner nerd is quite excited about! )- but till then, here is a little montage of my trip...


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