The White Girl

Writer/Director: Tracey Rigney  
Producer: Damienne Pradier, Jenni Tosi
Writer: Tony Briggs

Genre: Drama

Under a malicious Government Act allowing the forcible removal of Aboriginal children from their families; an Aboriginal Grandmother stops at nothing for the safety of her Granddaughter against the imminent threat from the authorities.

Spanning the 1940s – 1960s in rural south-eastern Australia. Aboriginal Grandmother Odette Brown is left with the solo task of raising her Granddaughter Sissy. Sissy is left abandoned by Odette’s traumatised daughter Lila, who was raped by a farmer Odette used to work for called Joe Kane. Odette silently mourns for Lila. Perhaps from the stress caused by the loss and grief of her only child and the mystery around that, Odette’s body grows a tumour and this becomes a huge cause for alarm along with the threat from the new Sergeant Lowe in town who suddenly appears out of the shadows. This new Sergeant Lowe is hellbent on upholding the legislation of removing Aboriginal children from their families. The sons of Joe Kane, the farmer who Odette worked for; also begin to harass Sissy out on the roads and streets of the town. When it dawns on Odette that Sissy’s father is Joe Kane. Her main objective is to protect Sissy not only from the authorities, but also from the sons who evidently are Sissy’s half siblings – as well as from the secrecy surrounding Odette’s tumour.

Odette thinks a way to safety is to find her missing daughter Lila and reunite her with Sissy. That means leaving their small rural community for the city. But things are not that easy. Aboriginal people require permission from the authorities to travel between regions. Odette summons up the courage to request permission only for this to be denied to her.

The exiting Sergeant Shea, who used to be a friend to Odette forges the travel permit, but it only covers Odette’s travel and not Sissy’s. The idea of the white girl is conceived. Odette tells Sissy how they’re going to get to the city by making people think Sissy is a white girl who Odette is nannying for a white family.

Sergeant Lowe discovers the forged travel permit and as a result the outgoing Sergeant Shea, and former friend of Odette, suicides. Odette and Sissy enlist the help of their neighbour Henry Lamb to get to the train station in the next big town. Sergeant Lowe sees them escaping and pulls over the vehicle. As they exit the vehicle things escalate and Lowe is run over by Henry Lamb.

Odette and Sissy get to the train station. But Odette is anxious for the train to depart the station – constantly looking over her shoulder and out the train window. The train finally pulls away from the platform. Odette breathes a sigh of relief. She looks out and sees the blur of the countryside through the window. A white woman strikes up a conversation with Sissy. Odette listens in, but is suffering in silence with her pain. She smiles at Sissy, who smiles back at her. She knows the tumour is a ticking time bomb. Will she die? Will she find Lila? Will she lose Sissy?

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