Ringtone | 2014 | 30 minutes | Miyarrka Media | Australia

A beautiful, funny and surprisingly moving film about the connections, intrusions and demands brought by mobile phones to a once remote community in northern Australia. In this collaboratively produced and directed film, Yolngu Aboriginal families offer glimpses into their lives and relationships through their choice of ringtones. From ancestral clan songs to 80s hip hop artists and local gospel tunes, these songs locate individuals in a world of deep and enduring connection. Yet, at the same time, these phones make Yolngu vulnerable to a range of threats, from sorcerers to tele-scammers, creating new pressures and dislocations in a society already living with profound loss and intergenerational change. As Yolngu speak directly to the audience explaining their choice of ringtone, they reveal a deeply-felt indigenous poetics inflecting the practicalities of mobile connectivity. Paul Gurrumuruwuy, co-director and on-screen participant, puts it the way: These days mobile phones are useful. Even in hunting or in the bush: at circumcision time, ceremony time, funeral time. … It’s like wearing clothes. We keep the phones close to our bodies. Always, everywhere, together.




Production still from RINGTONE


Watch RINGTONE trailer here:


Ringtone has been screened at several international film festivals throughout 2014 including the Virginia Film Festival and a screening at the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History, in Washington DC, USA.