In My Blood It Runsʼ Review: ʻI Want to Be an Aborigineʼ
In plain vérité style, the documentary follows an Arrernte Aboriginal family in Alice Springs, Australia.
By Teo Bugbee
Published June 11, 2020
Colonialism is a war that began hundreds of years ago and never ended. Its modern tactics and its weapons are noted
with precision in the ferocious documentary, “In My Blood It Runs.”
The film follows an Arrernte Aboriginal family in Alice Springs, Australia, focusing on Dujuan, a 10-year-old boy, and his mother Megan, as they navigate his education. In plain vérité style, the documentary exposes how language and
school are corrupted to become bludgeons for the system built by settlers.
At home, Dujuan is a gifted healer who speaks three languages, and he is a gentle comfort to his mother. But at
school, his teachers are white, and they mock Aboriginal spiritual beliefs while teaching a whitewashed version of
colonial history. Dujuan is disengaged and angry, and his grades, attendance and behavior suffer. Megan’s fear is that Dujuan could be taken from her and placed in juvenile detention, and as Dujuan’s aunt warns him, if he goes to
detention, he’ll either leave it for jail or a coffin.
The director Maya Newell gains access to both worlds that Dujuan traverses — home and school — and the trust that
she seems to have built with all participants is vital to the success of this film. In both settings, her subjects rarely acknowledge the camera directly. She captures natural behavior, whether she observes care or cruelty. Voices rarely raise, but the film still vibrates with fury.
In the final minutes, Dujuan is given an opportunity to express what would satisfy him, which he does in language
simple enough that even his teachers should be able to understand:
“Leave black kids alone.”
“Stop killing Aboriginal people.”
“I want to be an Aborigine.”