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  • Date and timeMonday 13 November, 6-7.30pm
  • Cost$8 general, $4 students and Friends of the Drill Hall Gallery
  • VenueKambri Cinema - Ground Floor, Cultural Centre, University Ave, Kambri ANU
  • TicketsBuy Here

In conjunction with the Drill Hall Gallery’s Pintupi Way exhibition (27 October – 17 December, 2023), join us for a screening of the documentary film Benny and the Dreamers (CAAMA, 1992),the extraordinary story of the Pintupi peoples’ first meeting with the white world. The film will be introduced by researcher and author Alec O’Halloran, and will be followed by a short Q&A with Alec.
Sales of Alec’s book Mick Namarari Tjapaltjarri: The master from Marnpi will be available before and after the event.

Benny and the Dreamers introduces a small group of Pintupi people living in the Western Desert, who remember their first meetings with white men, their first impressions of the white man’s world and their expectations of what that world had to offer.

“When Mick Namarari, Benny Tjapaltjarri, Smithy Zimran and Ronnie Tjampitjinpa went to the CAAMA office in Alice Springs, the producer (Burum) understandably advised the men the story had been told before. They pointedly insisted: not by us.” (The master from Marnpi, p. 129)

Benny and the Dreamers reveals for the first time on film the Pintupi peoples’ version of their first contact with white culture, which was to change their traditional way of life. For some it was a terrifying experience, for others a bewildering view of a world which made little sense. White contact brought an end to a nomadic way of life which had lasted tens of thousands of years.

In Benny and the Dreamers, Mick Namarari, Benny Tjapaltjarri and other Pintupi elders tell their stories of life before and after “whitefellas”. Through the use of rare archival footage, their journey is recreated from the western deserts to their transition from traditional society to semi-sedentary consumers of ‘flour, tea and sugar’. Many of the men who became stockmen and many of the women who worked in domestic settings became the famed Papunya Tula artists of today.

Through dramatic retelling of the stories, Benny and the Dreamers weaves its way into the nightmare of assimilation at Papunya in the 1960s, the killing fields of alcohol and the policy move toward self-determination. Their triumphant return to Country on outstations and the new Pintupi-led communities of Kintore and Kiwirrkura in the early 1980s completes this remarkable story.

view trailer here:

Narrator – Michael Liddle

Producer, Director – Ivo Burum
Executive Producers – Ivo Burum, Harry Bardwell, Phillip Batty
Production Manager – Priscilla Collins
Writer – Fionna Douglas
Editor – Nicolas Lee
Original Music – Bill Davis
Photography – Zbigniew Friedrich, John Whitteron
Camera Assistant – Warwick Thornton
Sound recording – Mark Tarpey
Additional Sound – Warwick Thornton, Leonie Dickinson, Rick Alexander, David Tranter
Produced with the assistance of the Australian Broadcasting Corporation and the Australian Film Finance Corporation Pty Ltd

© CAAMA Productions, 1992

Alec O’Halloran began a journey of personal discovery and reconciliation in the mid 1990s, where curiosity about Aboriginal art morphed into a wider interest in Aboriginal culture and history. He is an independent researcher and author with a focus on Pintupi artists of Australia’s Western Desert region. He wrote and published the authorised biography Mick Namarari Tjapaltjarri: The master from Marnpi, based on his doctoral thesis at the Australian National University. He co-curated Affection, a recent exhibition of Pintupi women’s art, to celebrate Papunya Tula Artists’ 50th anniversary. Alec’s current writing focuses on Tjapaltjarri’s paintings, exhibitions and events. Alec was commissioned to prepare Namarari’s entry for the Australian Dictionary of Biography. His author memoir, The road to Marnpi, appears in the current edition of the Australian Journal of History and Biography (ANU Press). He lives in Sydney.


The Drill Hall Gallery acknowledges the Ngunnawal and Ngambri peoples, the traditional custodians of the Canberra region, and recognises their continuous connection to culture, community and Country.