GIRRAWHEEN filmmaker Jeremy Thomson has been on a journey to discover more about his grandfather and WA’s first Indigenous parliamentarian Ernie Bridge.
Upcoming documentary The Kimberley Man, to be televised on NITV this month, is a revealing look at Mr Bridge’s role in giving the Aboriginal people of the Kimberley an unprecedented voice in Western politics and insight into the obstacles overcome in the name of progress.
Mr Bridge, who lived in Doubleview for the latter years of his life, could be described as a Renaissance man – a country music star, a drover boss and a pilot.
By uncovering forgotten tapes of his grandfather, Thomson brought Mr Bridge’s to life alongside rare accounts from Aboriginal people who witnessed some of its defining events.
The result is a new perspective that makes sense of the ‘dirty tricks’ employed against him and a personal and explosive look at how some deeply disturbing challenges were overcome.
Thomson, who directed the documentary, said it had always been a dream of his to tackle his grandfather’s groundbreaking story, which saw him become the first Aboriginal cabinet minister in any Australian government.
“Growing up, I had always been fascinated by his political fame but it wasn’t until I got into my adult years that I started to become curious about the journey he undertook to achieve that,” Thomson said.
“The experience of making this documentary was a profoundly indelible one. Meeting key participants in my grandfather’s journey, from various stages of his life, was more emotional for me than I had anticipated.
“It’s still just as relevant a story now as it was back then. Times may have changed but one thing remains exactly the same: we need leaders to take us forward but to do so, they have to stand up and be counted.”
The film features key figures such as ex-WA Premier Peter Dowding, Tom Stephens who was a key campaigner for Mr Bridge and was imprisoned for his involvement, and Josie Farrer, the present day Member for Halls Creek in the Kimberley.
The Kimberley Man was produced with support from NITV, Screen Australia and Screenwest.
It will screen on NITV on Monday, September 16 at 8.30pm.