Black Fire (Blackfire)


Blackfire is the first film ever directed by an Aboriginal person. It is a collection of connected ideas and a take on both the state of Anthropology and Aboriginal Affairs in 1972.

The film features appearances by several major political identities of the time, including Country and Western legend Harry Williams and his son Bertie, who was one of the original founders of the 1972 Aboriginal Tent Embassy. Also to be seen in the film is Pastor Doug Nicholls and Monash anthropologist Lorna Lippman.

McGuinness playfully injects now historic footage of the Fitzroy Stars Aboriginal community football team into sequences that include a hilarious scene whereby an obviously Aboriginal man (Harry Williams) walks along Bourke Street in Melbourne asking people, "Who discovered Australia?"

There is also a satirical take on an Aboriginal debutant quest and a gentle dig at the conservative political approach of Pastor Doug Nicholls. All of this footage is unique material that reveals the state of Aboriginal politics and society in Melbourne at an important historical intersection.


Release dates
1972 - Australia

Bruce McGuiness made Blackfire as an assignment submission for his class in Anthropology, in association with his non-Aboriginal friend Martin Bartfeld, with $500 in funding.

Bruce's son Kelli McGuinness was a member of an Aboriginal band in the 1990s called Black Fire, of which the lead singer was a young man called Kutcha Edwards. That band's first album was called Time to Dream, the title of Bruce's second film.

Some sources date Blackfire in 1969 with a runtime of 60 minutes.

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Harvard citation

Korff, J 2018, Black Fire (Blackfire), <>, retrieved 14 May 2021

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