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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
Edited by Reva Childs
Release dates
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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11 news items

Sydney Morning Herald
Thu, 19 May 2011 07:19:59 -0700

THE actor Leah Purcell and her partner, Bain Stewart, have been ordered to return a series of portraits worth more than $200,000 to the artist Robert Hannaford more than 10 years after he painted them for Ms Purcell's Black Chicks Talking project. The ...

Sydney Morning Herald

Sydney Morning Herald
Thu, 29 May 2014 02:34:25 -0700

... is hosting free screenings of indigenous films and documentaries until Tuesday. The lively program includes Mabo – Life Of An Island Man, Harry's War, shorts in the From Sand to Celluloid series and Black Chicks Talking. reconciliationvic.org.au ...
Sydney Morning Herald
Thu, 29 May 2014 20:44:28 -0700

BLACK CHICKS TALKING (52 minutes) M Leah Purcell's 2002 documentary brings together half-a-dozen indigenous women – including Deborah Mailman, then starring in TV's The Secret Life Of Us– for an evening of wine, laughter and discussion of matters ...

Sydney Morning Herald

Sydney Morning Herald
Fri, 04 Apr 2014 19:54:54 -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 ...
TBI Vision
Thu, 27 Sep 2012 06:52:30 -0700

... of contemporary indigenous life in Australia and features writers, actors and directors including Wayne Blair (The Sapphires), Catriona McKenzie (Satellite Boy, My Place), Rachel Perkins (Bran Nue Dae, Mabo), Leah Purcell (Black Chicks Talking ...
Sydney Morning Herald
Tue, 08 Feb 2011 05:35:14 -0800

And so has a dispute over 10 portraits that Robert Hannaford painted for the project, Black Chicks Talking. Hannaford is suing Stewart and his production company, Bungabura, for the return of the paintings. Defences filed with the NSW Supreme Court ...
Sydney Morning Herald
Sat, 12 Feb 2011 04:57:49 -0800

Yet he is acting for Hannaford, who is suing Purcell's partner Bain Stewart and his production company Bungabura for the return of 10 portraits of indigenous women that he painted for Purcell's Black Chicks Talking artistic project. Like his colleague ...
Inside Film
Sun, 27 May 2012 17:07:07 -0700

The series, which is directed by Rachel Perkins (Bran Nue Dae), Catriona McKenzie (Satellite Boy), Wayne Blair (The Sapphires) and Leah Purcell (Black Chicks Talking) tells the stories of six inner city households whose lives are changed by a seemingly ...

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