Director and ARC DECRA Tom Murray with Balang T.E. Lewis in 2018. Credit: Tarpaulin Productions
Original Published Date: 
Thursday, December 10, 2020

Dr Tom Murray is an academic and media producer based at Macquarie University, whose screen production research has been supported since 2014 by a Discovery Early Career Researcher Award (DECRA). A major outcome of the project is a feature-film documentary, which will make its debut at the 2020 Sydney Film Festival. Due to the need for social distancing, the festival will this year be exhibiting its films entirely online.

Directed by Dr Murray, The Skin of Others tells the extraordinary life story of Aboriginal WW1 soldier Douglas Grant (c.1885-1951), which encompasses two foundational conflicts of Australian and world history: the Frontier Wars that remade sovereign Aboriginal nation-territories into the Commonwealth of Australia; and WW1, a conflict that has provided Australian histories with a foundational narrative of tragic heroism and national pride in the ANZAC story.

Featuring the acclaimed Indigenous actor Balang Tom E. Lewis in his final performance (as Douglas Grant) and guest appearances from Max Cullen and Archie Roach, this film movingly interweaves the lives of Grant and Lewis: two truly remarkable men.

"This is also the story of Australia, its violent past and its future potential," says Dr Murray. "It recounts a tragic national history of Australian colonial relations with First Nations people, explores the ways we tell the story of our nation, and ultimately dreams of a more reconciled and inclusive Australian future."

A song that Dr Murray co-wrote with David Bridie for the documentary, called "The Ballad of the Bridge Builders" was voted 'Best Original Song Composed for the Screen' at the 2020 APRA Screen Music Awards. A performance of the song by Jessica Wells and Ursula Yovich can be seen in the awards ceremony video.

Dr Murray has been awarded an ARC Future Fellowship for work on a new documentary-film history project 'The Mangatharra Road', which will demystify Australian pre-colonial isolation, by demonstrating Indigenous Australia's connection to South-East Asian cultural and trading networks.


Photo credit: 

Director and ARC DECRA Tom Murray with Balang T.E. Lewis in 2018. Credit: Tarpaulin Productions.