Night Cries: A Rural Tragedy


Night Cries: A Rural Tragedy is the story of a white woman and her adopted Aboriginal daughter, told with vibrantly coloured landscapes and a richly constructed soundscape.

The film is in part a response by visual artist Tracey Moffatt to Charles Chauvel's celebrated feature film, Jedda (1955).

Shot totally in a studio, the film explores the relationship between an Aboriginal woman and her white mother. The daughter, now the sole carer for her dying mother, dreams of faraway places.

During her tending of the old woman, we feel her frustration with her filial responsibilities, her suppressed anger, her own need for warmth and love, her personal loneliness. Her memories and dreams invade her nerve-fraying routine until the old woman dies and we share the daughter's immense sense of loss.

Much of the power of the film lies in the artificially created, vibrantly coloured landscape and carefully constructed soundscape. The environment contributes another personality: an unbending, unchanging force.

Night Cries is about "loving and hating your mother", says Tracey Moffat.


Akira Fitzgerald
Elizabeth Gentle
Agnes Hardwick
Marcia Langton
Jimmy Little
Release dates
1987 - Australia
Video/DVD release date
25 August 2016 (digitally remastered)
1990 Melbourne Film Festival, Best Australian Film 1990 Montreal Women's Film Festival, Best Short Tampere Short Film Festival, Special Jury Award
G - general
Ronin Films
Jimmy Little

Tracey Moffat was born in 1960 and is an artist who works in both film and photography.

Tracey also wrote a book, Tracey Moffatt Fever Pitch, published in Sydney by Piper Press in 1996.

Other films by Tracey Moffat:

- Heaven (1997; footage of men getting changed in a car park near a beach, the film maker taking the position of a voyeur)

- Lip (1999; a collection of clips of black servants in Hollywood movies talking back to their 'bosses', attempting to expose the attitudes to race often found in mainstream cinema)

- Artist (2000; a collection of clips from movies and television programs that depict artists at work, at play and in the act of creation)

- Revolution (2008)

- Other (2009; 7 minutes of still images)

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Harvard citation

Korff, J 2018, Night Cries: A Rural Tragedy, <>, retrieved 9 August 2020

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