One of the world’s most remote bands is coming to St Kilda Film Festival
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29.05.2023

One of the world’s most remote bands is coming to St Kilda Film Festival

The Desert Stars

The world’s most remote Indigenous rock band is coming to St Kilda Film Festival in support of the award-winning Gravel Road documentary.

St Kilda Film Festival has selected award-winning documentary Gravel Road to screen at Hotel Esplanade on Saturday June 10 at 1pm. The screening will be accompanied by a live performance from First Nations rock band The Desert Stars.

Directed by Tristan Pemberton, the film gives a rare insight into the convergence of Indigenous Australian culture and contemporary rock music. It follows the debut tour of The Desert Stars as they travel from their home in remote Tjuntjuntjara across the punishing terrain of the Western Australian Desert.

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The Desert Stars’ lead singer Jay Minning is a traditional Spinifex man and the community’s traditional songman, who is responsible for creating, performing and passing down songs that connect the community to country. With his songs infused with rock ‘n’ roll, Indigenous culture and language, The Desert Stars’ music transcends cultural boundaries.

“For a black man, I’m living in two worlds here. And I got to get the story across to the other side,” says Minning.

Gravel Road gives a rare insight into Spinifex culture as the four-piece band undertakes its first-ever tour – not without a fair share of trial and tribulations along the way.

“What an utter privilege it’s been to collaborate with singer-songwriter Jay Minning and the community of Tjuntjuntjara in the making of Gravel Road,” says Pemberton. “Every journey changes you, and this one left an indelible mark on all participants in the true spirit of ngapartji-ngapartji (reciprocity). It was all made possible because of Jay’s incredible passion to share his remarkable life, culture and Spinifex history through music

The four-piece Spinifex band’s music reflects on the artists’ profound connection to their vast culture, as they are the last true nomads. Their elders were the last First Nations people to connect with colonised Australians, emerging from the desert in 1986.

With songs of hunter-gatherer life and their people’s survival of the 1950’s British atomic testing at the infamous Maralinga site, The Desert Stars’ fanbase is diverse and rapidly growing.

The Gravel Road screening and The Desert Stars performance at the St. Kilda Film Festival will be accompanied by performances from Yolngu singer Eleanor Dixon, Torres Strait Islander artist, John Wayne Parsons alongside imagery provided by Flywire Films.

Gravel Road won Best Documentary Feature at Poppy Jasper Film Festival in California and made its Australian premiere in Margaret River on August 27 last year, followed by a surprise live performance by The Desert Stars. The band received so many calls for encores it ran out of songs.

Tickets can be purchased here.