Meet Kushia Young. She can’t hear you. But she can draw you a mystical character in under 10 minutes. This profoundly deaf 20-year-old artist from the remote APY Lands is being recognised for her unique contemporary indigenous drawings.
Seen at the July 2016 Under 5min. FEEDBACK Film Festival in Toronto.
Movie Review by Kierston Drier
Dragon Dreaming is a biographical piece following 20 year old Kushia, an indigenous visual artist from Australia born profoundly deaf. While beautifully shot and with a wonderfully good intentions, Dragon Dreaming has some controversy in it that may be missed at first glance.
The film is undoubtedly meant to raise awareness about this talented young artist and her incredibly skills with the visual medium. And to its credit, Dragon Dreaming does an excellent job at showcasing Kushia’s clear ability. Much of her art is shown throughout the movie, which follows her present story and culminates the Art Exhibition the community organizes for her.
It is certainly a gesture of love that sparks the community to open an exhibition for Kushia, however, many areas of Kushia’s life and her art are glossed over. Very little attention is given to the fact that she is deaf (it is mentioned only once or twice in the movie) and there are less than a handful of shots without sound- which show the world as Kushia would experience it. There is no interpreter for Kushia, meaning she is virtually voiceless for the entire film. She has no way to express herself, except through her art and her own indigenous sign language, but even that is never translated for the audience. It is apparent that Kushia and her family come from a community and background that is marginalized, and her standard of living is well below those around her.
The underlying issue here- the elephant in the room, so to speak- is relationship Australia has with its indigenous people. Too big an issue for this small short film with a big heart.
What Dragon Dreaming reminds all audiences is that talent comes from all walks of life, and it can be nurtured if discovered and given a chance. In this way, all audiences of Dragon Dreaming must hope that the film makes it into the hands of Animators in our most illustrious studios, so that maybe Kushia’s future can be as bright and colorful as her personality.
Watch the Audience FEEDBACK Video of the short film: