Dujuan Hoosan, the central figure in Maya Newell’s collaborative film In My Blood It Runs, listens to a story his grandmother is telling. A ten year old boy, his grandmother’s way of entertaining him is to tell him a folk tale. One that she knows from the the language of the Arrernte, the mother tongue of an Aboriginal culture in Australia. After telling the story though, he asks to retell it in English. The Hoosan family raise Dujuan the same way most families, especially POC families raise their children. They want their children to have a formal education and at the same time, learn their people’s culture and language. Specifically to Dujuan, he can take what their learn from both education systems and flourish back in his homeland Australia’s Northern Territory. He, however, have the same problems that other smart kids of colour live with.
Australia is just one of the many subjects of the documentary, and by that I mean the documentary displays nature with a certain honesty. Nature is the subject of Dujuan’s gaze, able to notice slight differences within. The film also has its share of close-ups. Many of the close-ups in In The Blood It Runs focus on the Aboriginal school where Dujuan goes. The film clearly shows the school as an institution that isn’t serving his needs as malleable mind. The editing here, though, doesn’t spoon-feed how inadequate this system is. During one scene, Dujuan is tapping away with his pencil, the kind of behavior that would annoy any adult. During the next, we see a sign showing a sad red face with “time out” under it, showing his punishment. Punishment is exactly what he gets instead of treatment for whatever learning ‘disability’ that he’s demonstrating.
Films about Aboriginal people, inadvertently or otherwise, use their human subjects or protagonists as vessels to retraumatize its viewers. The choices, for the most part, in In The Blood It Runs, instead reminds viewers that Dujuan is a person who needs care. Thankfully, the film also shows some tender moments where he and his grandmother bond, a bond that he sometimes tests. In one scene, they hang outside their home close to town, where she tells him her plans to build a house back in their homeland. During another, she goes with him to the school’s disciplinary hearing. There, the settler principal lets him know that this hearing is a final warning, but his body language shows that he’s not taking her words seriously. Even if Dujuan does things like this, the film as a whole gives him the respect he deserves.
Watch In The Blood It Runs on OVID.