Ceremony life is the unbroken backbone of Yolŋu existence and connects Yolŋu to 50,000 years of culture. Obligation to ceremony is the highest priority in Yolŋu lives and ceremonial law govern a large amount of Yolŋu life. The ability to capture ceremony, in particular, Bapurru (funeral) & Dhapi (initiation) is vital to the recording of contemporary Yolŋu knowledge. Ceremonies contain large amounts of buŋgul (dance) which is not usually performed elsewhere and they are a great demonstration of family connection, hierarchy, clan structure, and strength. Mulka maintains a wide pool of camera operators on staff, and freelancing, which record these ceremonies when requested by ceremonial leaders. These films are edited into feature length films and distributed back into the community as well as being archived in full for future generations to experience contemporary Yolŋu ceremony.
The Mulka Project fosters filmmakers to utilise filming and editing techniques and equipment to create their own stories, narratives and documentaries. We workshop Yolŋu ideas and stories from concept, through to script, and onto production and post. We fly in industry professionals as trainers and mentors, working on shoots with staff and imparting vital knowledge and years of experience. The films created are added to the archive, but are also distributed to film festivals, competitions, public screenings, exhibitions and via the Internet. These films and stories are flagships of Yolŋu culture and help create Yolŋu awareness in mainstream society as well as profiling Yolŋu filmmakers on a global stage.
One of the cornerstones of Yolŋu culture is the manikay song line. Oral knowledge sharing between generations has traditionally been achieved through the teaching and learning of these manikay. They contain information about everything from ‘the creation of the Yolŋu homelands’ to ‘how to use a pigeon to find your way to water’. Every clan has their own songs and knowledge to share. Our manikay recording operations extend out to the Yolŋu homelands and focus on the eldest generation of each clan. Milkarri, the female grieving song lines have been largely overlooked by anthropologists over the decades and there is a great risk of this knowledge being lost. Our cultural directors, through direction from community elders, have identified this knowledge as being endangered so The Mulka Project have made the recording of Milkarri a priority in our Manikay recording programs.
Mulka Music is the music development and production department of The Mulka Project. It’s objective is to identify, nurture, develop and promote Yolŋu musicians, songwriters, and producers. Through the development of a community owned recording studio and the advancement of a Yolŋu owned music production and distribution framework, local talent gain access to the means and pathways necessary to hone their craft, produce their product, and further their careers. Mulka Music is intended to be a springboard program for musicians, song writers, and producers, arming Yolŋu with the skills, tools and connections to break into the music industry whilst offering them the ability to pursue further options as they grow. Mulka Music provides distribution for local artists servicing 35 online stores and streaming services including iTunes, Spoitfy, Amazon, and Tidal.