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Manganinnie 1980 Film.png
Promotional movie poster for the film
Directed by John Honey
Produced byGilda Baracchi
Written byKen Kelso
Beth Roberts (novel)
Starring Mawuyul Yanthalawuy
Anna Ralph
Music by Peter Sculthorpe
CinematographyGary Hansen
Edited byMike Woolveridge
Distributed byGUO
Umbrella Entertainment
Release date
Flag of Australia (converted).svg 15 August 1980 (1980-08-15)
Running time
90 minutes
Language English
BudgetA$481,000 [1] [2]

Manganinnie is an AFI Award-winning 1980 film which follows the journey of Manganinnie, a Tasmanian Aboriginal woman who searches for her tribe with the company of a lost white girl named Joanna. Based on Beth Roberts' novel of the same name, it was directed by John Honey and was the first feature film to be financed by the short-lived Tasmanian Film Corporation.



During the Black War of 1830 in the penal colony of Van Diemen's Land, Manganinnie survives a raid on her village. She finds the body of her husband, Meenopeekameena, and builds him a funeral pyre.

The grieving Manganinnie journeys across vast mountains and rivers towards the coast in search of the rest of her tribe. She finds Joanna, a lost white girl, along her way. The pair develop a bond for each other despite not having a common language. Manganinnie teaches Joanna some of her traditional knowledge, and eventually initiates her into her tribe.

Ultimately however, Manganinnie comes to realise that her people and way of life has been destroyed by encroachment from white setttlers. When Joanna is asleep, she carries the girl back to her family.

Joanna struggles to adapt back to life with her family. One day Manganinnie's body is found, and Joanna gives her old friend a traditional funeral using the lessons she has learned.


Filming started 12 November 1979 and took five weeks. [2]

Filming locations


Despite the grim subject matter the film recovered its costs and made a small profit. [3]


See also


Anna Ralph, who played the little white girl Joanna, is now an Associate Professor of infectious diseases working at Royal Darwin Hospital looking after patients, including Aboriginal peoples.

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  1. Connolly, Keith (1994). Oxford Australian Film 1978–1994. Oxford University Press. Page 62
  2. 1 2 David Stratton, The Last New Wave: The Australian Film Revival, Angus & Robertson, 1980 p320
  3. David Stratton, The Avocado Plantation: Boom and Bust in the Australian Film Industry, Pan MacMillan, 1990 p35
  4. – AFI AWARD WINNERS: FEATURE CATEGORIES 1958–2010 Archived 19 March 2012 at the Wayback Machine