Port Adelaide to Point Pearce. Cars, cops, cattle stations and driving rock and reggae. Two days in the lives of Aboriginal bands, “Us Mob” and “No Fixed Address”.
Wrong Side of the Road opens with scenes of police breaking up a performance of the two groups, arresting a band member and his subsequent escape from a police vehicle. It continues with run-ins between the musicians and the establishment.
The racism encountered when the bands turn up at a gig and the white hotel manager discovers they are black, the insensitivity of the police and bureaucrats, and the difficulties in tracing one’s family after being adopted out (“Stolen Generations” issue), reflect the problems encountered by many urban Aboriginal people. “Wrong Side of the Road” reveals the injustices Aboriginal people constantly face.
The thread that runs through Wrong Side of the Road is the story played by Les Graham in the film, of a boy looking for his mother. We constructed the script out of life stories that we recorded from members of the bands, and people around the bands and at the Centre for Aboriginal Studies in Music.
They weren’t necessarily playing themselves — Les was in fact playing someone else’s story in the film.
But if you look today — here in 2000 twenty years later — at the significance of the Stolen Generation and the way that that has become part of the whole public debate — it wasn’t in those days, but that’s what that story was about. It was about a kid who had been taken away from his family, and in fact right through the seventies that was still happening.
There was many ways that those sort of situations came about, obviously there were instances of kids being forcibly removed from parents, and also instances of kids being removed for a whole range of other reasons. But always with the same consequence, which was the fragmentation of family, and the dislocation of family, and of kids trying to reconnect with both their blood family and their broader community. (Ned Lander in an interview with The Aboriginal)
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