Sweet Country screening in Bendigo aims to strengthen rapport between police and central Victoria's Aboriginal community

ABOUT 230 people took police up on the offer to attend a movie night with a difference.

Bendigo Cinemas this evening screened an invitation-only session of Sweet Country, an internationally-acclaimed film by Indigenous director Warwick Thornton.

The film follows the story of an Aboriginal stockman who shoots and kills an abusive white landowner in the Australian outback during the 1920s – a story inspired by real events.

The shooting was an act of self-defence.

Bendigo-based Superintendent Darren Franks said Sweet Country was ideal for the event because it touched on key issues such as social injustice, exploitation and racism.

“Unfortunately in a lot of cases the shared history between the first Australians and police has not been pleasant,” the superintendent said.

He believed understanding and acknowledging what had occurred in the past would help strengthen the relationship between police and the Aboriginal community now and into the future.

“It’s important for us to acknowledge the past so that we can move forward and have meaningful conversations about areas that we can improve upon,” Superintendent Franks said.

The screening was followed by a listening post.

The City of Greater Bendigo, Bendigo and District Aboriginal Co-operative and the Department of Justice and Regulation supported police in arranging the event.

Mr Thornton had intended on introducing the film, but was unable to attend due to promotional activities abroad.

Sweet Country has achieved recognition at the Venice Film Festival, Toronto International Film Festival, Adelaide Film Festival Audience Awards, and Asia Pacific Screen Award.

Dignitaries in attendance at this evening’s screening in Bendigo included Victoria Police Western Region Commander Paul Naylor.