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Black Chicks Talking
Author Leah Purcell
Publisher Hodder Headline Australia
Publication date
Pages 363
ISBN 0-7336-1070-6
Black Chicks Talking
Directed by Brendan Fletcher
Leah Purcell
Produced by Brendan Fletcher
Bain Stewart
Cinematography Himman Dhamija
Editing by Reva Childs
Studio Bungabura Productions
Release dates 2001
Running time 52 minutes
Country Australia
Language English

Black Chicks Talking is an arts project by Australian actress Leah Purcell featuring a 2001 documentary film, a 2002 book, a stage production and an art exhibition. The film is co-directed by Brendan Fletcher and features Indigenous Australian women including Purcell, actress Deborah Mailman and politician Kathryn Hay. Following the book and film, Purcell wrote a fictionalised dramatisation under the same title.[1]


Purcell got the idea for a book featuring interviews of Indigenous Australian women following the success of her semi-autobiographical play Box the Pony.[2] After seeing the play someone suggested that Purcell find other Indigenous women to tell their stories.[2] Purcell sought out nine women who personally inspired her, some professional, some not.[2] The interviewees included politician and former Miss Australia Kathryn Hay, actress Deborah Mailman, netball player Sharon Finnan, United Nations youth delegate Tammy Williams, Rosanna Angus and Cilla Malone.[1][3] To initiate discussion, Purcell asked each woman the question "Out of the five senses, which one do you relate to and what is your first pleasurable memory of that sense?"[2] Her partner Bain Stewart gave her the idea of filming the interviews and using them as the basis for a documentary.[2] Further interviews were conducted over the telephone, particularly when participants felt uncomfortable opening up on-camera.[1] The interviews explored the topics of identity, family and culture in relation to Indigenous Australian women.[4]


Purcell used the documentary footage of the interviews as the basis for the film. Only five of the women from the book are featured in the film — Hay, Mailman, Williams, Angus and Malone.[5] In addition to the solo interviews conducted for the book, Purcell filmed the women talking over dinner at a restaurant in Sydney.[3] The documentary was finished before the book was published.[2]

Release and reception[edit]

The film premiered at the inaugural Tribeca Film Festival[6] and was shown at the Melbourne and Sydney film festivals.[3][7] It was screened on the Australian network SBS on 30 August 2002.[2] It won the Inside Film Award for Best Documentary.[8] The book was published in June 2002 by Hodder Headline Australia.[7] Realist artist Robert Hannaford painted portraits of each of the nine women which, along with stills from the documentary, made up a travelling art exhibition.[7] A stage adaptation of Black Chicks Talking by Purcell and Sean Mee opened in December 2002.[4] The play is a fictional story with five female characters, one of whom, Elizabeth, is played by Purcell.[9]


  1. ^ a b c Griffin, Michelle (30 June 2002), "Black chick talking", The Age, retrieved 20 January 2010 
  2. ^ a b c d e f g Capp, Rose; Villella, Fiona A. (September 2002), "Interview with Leah Purcell", Senses of Cinema, retrieved 21 January 2010 
  3. ^ a b c Webb, Carolyn (30 July 2002), "What does being black mean, anyway?", The Age, retrieved 19 January 2010 
  4. ^ a b Kermond, Clare (29 August 2002), "Women's business", The Age, retrieved 22 January 2010 
  5. ^ Collins, Felicity; Davis, Therese (2004). "Backtracking after Mabo". Australian cinema after Mabo. Cambridge University Press. pp. 17–19. ISBN 0-521-54256-1. 
  6. ^ Turner, Tonya (11 April 2008), "There's power in the past", The Courier-Mail, retrieved 19 January 2010 
  7. ^ a b c Jopson, Debra (15 June 2002), "Aboriginal chicks decide to let the nation eavesdrop", The Age, retrieved 22 January 2010 
  8. ^ "IF Award Winners". Inside Film Awards. Retrieved 19 January 2010. 
  9. ^ Dunne, Stephen (18 January 2003), "Black Chicks Talking, Drama Theatre", The Sydney Morning Herald, retrieved 22 January 2010 

External links[edit]

Original courtesy of Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Black_Chicks_Talking — Please support Wikipedia.
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2 news items

Sydney Morning Herald

Sydney Morning Herald
Mon, 14 Apr 2014 16:37:30 -0700

Purcell is one of Australia's leading actors, directors and author of Box the Pony and the best-selling non-fiction anthology Black Chicks Talking. She has written and directed episodes of the ABC TV series Redfern Now and wrote, directed and starred ...

Sydney Morning Herald

Sydney Morning Herald
Fri, 04 Apr 2014 19:48:45 -0700

But will he be brave enough to quiz Purcell on the 2011 court case she and her partner, Bain Stewart, lost to artist Robert Hannaford over the ownership of portraits used in her Black Chicks Talking project? ''At this point in time, I wouldn't want to ...

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