high ground.jpg
high ground

★★★★

director: Stephen Johnson (yolngu boy)

starring: Jacob Junior Nayinggul, simon baker, caren pistorius and jack thompson

REVIEWER: emily carter

In a bid to save the last of his family, Gutjuk, a young Aboriginal man, teams up with ex-soldier Travis to track down Baywara, the most dangerous warrior in the Territory, his uncle.

A deep-dive into the bloodiest side of Australia's history, High Ground gives heart-wrenching insight into Aboriginal culture and the country's confronting past. The tear-jerking tale is inspired by true events and highlights a group of actors representing a story that can't help but leave a lasting impression.

 

Premiering at the Berlin International Film Festival, High Ground showcases the epic beauty of Australia's outback. Directed by Stephen Maxwell Johnson, the action thriller is set across the 1930s. Beginning with a bloody stake-out on an Aboriginal tribe, we're introduced to bounty hunter Travis (Simon Baker) and the young boy, Gutjuk (Jacob Junior Nayinggul) he rescues from the attack.

 

Years later Gutjuk and Travis reunite to find the leader of a ruthless mob terrorising the area - Baywara, Gutjuk's uncle. Gutjuk walks a tenuous line between his allegiance to his family, and the trust he has for a white man.  

 

High Ground doesn't shy away from the most brutal parts of Australia's recent history, while carefully representing Aboriginal beliefs, their links to the land and the generational oppression they face.

 

Travis and Gutjuk trade off as the protagonist and hero throughout the film, carrying the tale's heavy message with haunting realism. Packed with authenticity, raw beauty and the emotional truths of a country's past, High Ground pulls together pieces inspired by history to show viewers exactly why our history must inform our future.

 

High Ground is a must-watch, if not for the unmissable talents of its cast, then for the lessons it will undoubtedly teach its captive audiences in 2021.

★★★★