Zach’s Ceremony

Aaron Peterson
2015 | 92 mins
Country of Production: Australia
Country Featured: Australia
US Premiere | Director in Attendance
Friday, October 14 | 6:30 pm | Program F29

Follow the life of an Indigenous Australian boy over six years as he moves toward a traditional initiation to manhood. Growing up with his father, cultural leader Alec Doomadgee, Zach is caught between two worlds: his urban Australian upbringing and his family’s Aboriginal roots. His mother’s absence looms as his ceremony approaches and Zach grapples with internal conflict stemming from his father’s plans for him, a desire to rebel, and an increasing need for clarity about who he is. Set against a backdrop of racial tension both inside and outside the Indigenous community, Zach’s story is an intimate, heartrending, and ultimately uplifting portrait of a young man struggling to define himself.

Co-presented by the Australian Consulate-General, New York


Plays with Petyarre

Re:Frame, My Perspective

“It took me a long time to know exactly what our story was. I always believed our agenda was to respectfully document an event never captured before on film: the sacred rite of initiation for the Waanyi and Garawa people of Australia. But, after filming Zach over several years, I came to realize the critical component of our story was to capture him growing up right in front of the camera. From the tender age of 10 to the rebellious teenage years, we saw his evolving view of the world on topics such as racism, culture, suicide, drugs, and alcohol. By keeping the lens firmly through the eyes of a boy, I kept the storytelling authentic and avoided any personal view or bias coming into the narrative. Being a non-Indigenous person making an Indigenous story, this has to be the only approach. It is not my place to tell Zach’s story but I can enable him to share his struggles by giving him the strongest voice possible. I am so grateful for Zach’s bravery and courage and for everything he has taught me along the way. Life lessons come in many forms and I was lucky enough to learn about Zach and his culture from the best seat in the house.”

— Aaron Petersen| Director, Zach’s Ceremony