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Satellite Dreaming (1991)

Satellite Dreaming (1991) was a co-production between a London based independent production company - APT Film & Television - and CAAMA (the Central Australian Aboriginal Media Association), based in Alice Springs. The programme was originally commissioned by Channel 4 in the UK, for their Channels of Resistance series, which went to air in 1993. The premise of the series was that global television presented a ‘major threat to cultural and political diversity’, and the aim was to present instances of opposition to this threat from around the world. Satellite Dreaming was screened on the 3rd May in the UK, alongside another programme about Indigenous media (the Inuit Broadcasting Company) in the Canadian Arctic.

The programme takes as its starting point the launch of AUSSAT - the domestic satellite system - which in the 1980s made TV accessible across the whole of Australia. It explores the response from CAAMA and other media groups in remote communities, to the increased access for Western culture to Indigenous spaces that AUSSAT afforded. Their concern was that unrestricted commercial television in Indigenous communities would have a harmful effect on communities where an Aboriginal language was often the first language spoken.

CAAMA set up Imparja TV as a way of countering these effects, and Satellite Dreaming investigates the successes and limitations of this project, and of BRACS (the Broadcasing in Remote Aboriginal Communities Scheme). The programme also shows how different Indigenous groups used video and television to sustain and strengthen their own cultural identity, in both the Coastal areas through mainstream broadcasting on ABC and SBS, and in the remote communities on the Warlpiri and Pitjantjatjara lands.

Satellite Dreaming was shown on the ABC in Australia shortly after it was made, and has been in distribution since. It is described by Ronin Films (who distribute it in Australia), as ‘a film of considerable historic importance’ which ‘narrates the emergence of Indigenous broadcast media in Australia, and discusses its role in maintaining Indigenous languages and culture.’ It was aired again recently in Australia, on 25 January 2020 on NITV.

Satellite Dreaming was directed by Ivo Burum, produced by Ivo Burum and Tony Dowmunt, camerawork by Warwick Thornton, and edited by Nicolas Lee.

Production Manager – Priscilla Collins

Production Assistants – Heather Campbell, Christine Carter

Camera – Warwick Thornton

Location Sound – Scott Davis

Original Music – Bill Davis, Stanley Satour

Online Editor – David Nixon

Narrator – Angela Ruska

Graphic Artist – Rod Moss

Pitjantjatjarra Translator – Neil Turner

Warlpiri Translators – Mary Laughren, Tammy Cusack

Editor - Nicolas Lee

Director – Ivo Burum

Producers – Ivo Burum, Tony Dowmunt

Executive Producer – Ivo Burum

In association with Channel 4 and APT Film and Television, A CAAMA Production ©1991