26 September 2023

The Last Daughter

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Reviewed by Rama Gaind.

Directors: Brenda Matthews and Nathaniel Schmidt, Bonsai Films.

Healing is hidden in the past as evidenced through this poignant documentary. The Last Daughter is about Brenda’s journey to unearth the truth about her past, and to reconcile the two sides of her family.

Co-directed by, and featuring Wiradjuri woman Brenda Matthews, on a journey to find her white family – and uncover the truth about her abduction. As a child, Brenda was handed over to a white family to be raised, before eventually being returned to the Aboriginal family she no longer knew.

Brenda’s first memories were of growing up in a loving white foster family. She remembers her white parents with fondness, especially their daughter who was around her age.

Decades later, feeling disconnected from both halves of her life, she went searching for the foster family with whom she had lost all contact. Now an adult, Brenda searches for the truth behind her government ordered abduction. In the process she uncovers long-buried secrets and government lies, whilst reconciling her past and the two sides of her family. There was the possibility for deeper connections to family and culture.

It is through dramatic recreations of the past and interviews with Brenda and members of her two families, we see unfolding a deeply emotional and healing story about love, loss and reconnection.

The film has been brought to screen through collaboration between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal cast and crew. At the heart of this collaboration was the Aboriginal cultural framework: the Banaam Framework.

Co-directors Brenda Matthews and Nathaniel Schmidt won the Audience Documentary Award at the Adelaide Film Festival for this documentary.

  • The Last Daughter is screening in cinemas Australia-wide

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