beDevil (1993)

The first feature directed by an Australian Aboriginal woman — Tracey Moffatt, who also made Lip, a mashup of black servants in Hollywood movies talking back to their bosses — BeDevil was inspired by the director’s childhood.

The first story “Mr. Chuck” is about an Australian boy haunted by the spirit of a drowned American soldier, with the experience seen through the eyes of the boy as a man looking back on his youth and a white woman whose family colonzied Australia. And it’s presented as a series of documentary interviews, heightening the strangeness of it all.

In “Choo Choo Choo Choo, Moffat plays a character who might even be herself as a train continues to haunt a family as it runs on invisible tracks through Queensland, even decades later.

The last story is “Lovin’ the Spin I’m In,” during which a doomed couple tries to leave their community behind to escape racism, their death ends up trapping them in an eternal dance.

beDevil has been compared to Kwaidan and that’s an apt comparison. It feels like it came from a darker world than our own to explain and help us get past the darkness in our own place. Please try and seek it out, as it’s an amazing film.

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