Film screening of 'Putuparri and the Rainmakers'

Date & time

5.30–7.30pm Monday 21 March 2016


Lotus Foyer & Auditorium, Australian Centre for China in the World, Building 188, Fellows Lane, The  Australian National University


The film will be followed by a discussion lead by Mary Spiers Williams, lecturer at the ANU College of Law.


For interstate visitors, we offer suggestions for accommodation near ANU.


Film screening

Putuparri and the Rainmakers takes audiences on a rare and emotional journey to meet the traditional rainmakers of Australia’s Great Sandy Desert.

Ten years in the making, the film is an extraordinary eyewitness account of the living traditions of Putuparri’s people.

The film spans 20 transformative years in the life of Tom ‘Putuparri’ Lawford as he navigates the deep chasm between his Western upbringing and his determination to keep his traditional culture alive. Director Nicole Ma documents Putuparri’s journey, travelling with him and his family on numerous occasions to Kurtal, a sacred waterhole in the Great Sandy Desert where they ritually make rain. Kurtal is a site of deep spiritual significance for Putuparri and his family and the subject of a long term native title claim over the area.

Tom ‘Putuparri’ Lawford is a man caught between two worlds: his future as a leader of his people, reconnecting with his ancestral lands and shouldering his responsibility to pass this knowledge on to the next generation; and both his past and present in modern society, where he battles with alcoholism and domestic violence.

Set against the backdrop of this long fight for ownership of traditional lands Putuparri and the Rainmakers is an emotional, visually breathtaking story of love, hope and the survival of Aboriginal law and culture against all odds.

Mary Spiers Williams is a lecturer at the ANU College of Law. She has broad range of experience in criminal law and criminology research, teaching, practice, policy and advocacy. Her research is on impacts of state law on Indigenous peoples and the phenomenon of transnational law. Her doctoral research is concerned with legal concepts of culture in sentencing law in the Northern Territory.

RSVP is essential for catering purposes.


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