QUEEN REGINA – Regina Pilawuk Wilson documentary project

Queen Regina is a documentary portrait of Regina Pilawuk Wilson’s life as “one of the significant contemporary artists living today”. – Henry Skerritt  

With work hanging in collections in Australia, the US and Europe, this film dives into the most significant moments in Regina’s life: from walking out of a Catholic mission, to starting the community of Peppimenarti, a heartland of ceremony and culture for people in Daly River. And, then becoming an acclaimed artist and ambassador for indigenous people. Thread by thread, woven together as symbolically as the fine lines of her paintings, we traverse the story of her life and into the starkly different worlds of contemporary art and her aboriginal community to explore the value of art, significance cultural heritage and success.

Regina and I met in 2013. I had won a scholarship with National Geographic to make a short film in Arnhem Land and it was this film that facilitated my introduction to Regina and Peppimenarti.

The first film project we did together turned into a  wild adventure. Our plan was to document the techniques of Regina’s grandfather’s stitch, from master weaver Lily Roy. The techniques were lost to Regina after missionary contact in Daly River. We made the film but things didn’t quite go to plan and we ended up bogged overnight in a croc-infested river in the middle of nowhere. In my memory trying to cut down trees in the mud in the middle of the night whilst being mauled by mozzies is a moment Regina and I now look back on and laugh about. But in the moment, I was absolutely petrified and helplessly stranded until by a twist of fate we were rescued at 6:00am.  After that initial project, Regina would call me to help make films for the community or document certain events or ceremonies as a record or for their archives. Thus, she opened up the small community of Peppimenarti to me. Sometimes I have been called up from Melbourne to film bark harvesting, collecting bush foods, hunting magpie geese, filming ceremonies, song, dances and stories. Editing little bits and pieces along the way, I got to know the Wilson family and they got to know me.

Together Regina and I are on a journey to bring her incredible story to the world. Stay tuned!


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