The Journey of ‘In my blood it runs’

16 Nov 2023

The 2019 film 'In My Blood It Runs' told the story of 10-year-old Arrernte boy Dujuan’s life in the Northern Territory. Here, Dujuan shares insights into working on that film, and the story in his upcoming book.

In my blood it runs

My birthday just gone and I am 17 years old now. When I was 10 I was the star of a documentary In My Blood It Runs. It’s a story about learning in schools that only teach in English. The film is about racism, fighting for justice for Aboriginal people and the way us Aboriginal kids and families are treated in Australia. 

I wanted to make young people feel like they were there with me when I was making the movie. I want to show the world how us young Aboriginal kids live and are treated on the streets in Australia.

From film to a book

It was really fun writing the book. I chose to be an author with both my nannas Margie and Carol. We spent a week in Darwin and with help from Rachel and Maya (from the film team) we did a lot of writing, talking and looking at other kid’s books in the library. It’s even more difficult writing a book than making a film. You have to do a lot of writing and so much thinking. So many sentences to check. 

This book is about me and what I went through as a kid. It’s about me as a kid, but it’s for everyone in Australia to read. I ended up experiencing a lot of racism in Alice Springs – it’s a hot spot for cruelling black kids. I also saw fighting, drinking and smoking from families struggling to cope with it all. I grew up in the struggle. Police would always harass us for walking around without a parent on the streets, and sometimes put us in paddywagons to take us home. It was always a cold rough trip in the back. 

Even though I saw all this, I grew up to be a young strong man. My families loved me and looked after me.

It was a long time ago now that we made the documentary In My Blood It Runs – I was 10 years old. When I look back it makes me think about all the memories and fun times that I had as a child. I miss making the movie, it was real fun. There was always a lot of fun things to do when we were releasing it. My favourite time was when we were going to Switzerland for the United Nations and Canada for the premiere. I met a lot of great people when I was doing the movie and got a lot of great opportunities to do great things. I did lots of radio and media, worked on a cattle station, saw huge cities that go on forever like Toronto, Geneva, Sydney, Melbourne, Darwin, Cairns and went to Canberra to speak with politicians. I got painted by Blak Douglas and hung in the Archibald prize. I had my words read out in parliament by leaders trying to help us. It’s been a long journey and good experience.

I’m close to 18 and soon will be going out bush on my own. I can’t wait to have my own car to do my own stuff and go fishing on my own. I want to grow up, and then I don’t want to grow up. 

I miss childhood days of playing with cousins and families who were always with me at Hidden Valley Towncamp and Borroloola. Most people close their eyes to remember their childhood in their mind, but for me I can watch the film or read this book and see us as kids climbing up the hills, chasing kangaroos and jumping off the roof of the community centre. 

I’ve been doing a lot of travelling lately seeing my families around the Northern Territory. I’m planning to go work on cattle stations in Queensland. I like that idea because you are out on the land, you get to be with friends and family out there, you learn new things everyday.

Being an author doesn’t feel different to being a filmmaker, but it’s alright.

I wrote this book as something for you to read to your children as a bedtime story. I wrote it for you to read on long road trips to make sure you don’t get bored. I wrote it for people who don’t understand TV very well, and just want to look at pictures and read instead. It could be a story to read to your families and friends around the fire out bush. 

Not many people come to Hidden Valley to see how we live there, so this is a way to show people how families respect each other, how we express ourselves when no one outside is looking, and how we teach our young ones culture.

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