I first viewed Today's Cowboys two years ago at the Queensland New Filmmaker Awards, and was stunned. From the cinematography taking in the Australian landscape to the captivating story, it is a truly beautiful piece of filmmaking.
Shot over three days in Esk, Queensland, the initial intention was to address the question, 'What is the image of the modern cowboy?'. It turned into something quite different.
Centering on Mick, a beautiful young man who has encountered depression at the intersection of society's expectations, familial sorrow, the isolation of country life and a sensitive disposition ("I'm different to most people," he says), the award-winning film elicits an emotional response from audiences that cuts to the core of our humanity and Australian mateship.
According to the Gender Indicators, Australia, report published by the Australian Bureau of Statistics in July, males were more than three times as likely as females to die from suicide. Despite our relative prosperity, we are losing young people at an alarming rate.
The problem is particularly stark for those living in rural areas who are less connected to support networks, and who are also exposed to trauma related to the land on which they work (drought, land degradation, de-population) and a particular brand of Australian masculine stoicism (God bless the Men's Sheds for daring to go there).
On Tuesday September 4, from 9.30am to 4pm, World Café is hosting an 'escalating conversation' on youth suicide in Australia (details below). It will address societal issues such as cyber bullying, long-term mental illness, family breakdown, a lack of hope and a pervasive feeling of being overwhelmed.
We need to support our young men – and middle-aged and old ones, too – to be all they can be, despite the tumbleweeds of life, and caution them to take refuge in good things and the right people.
While Today's Cowboys addresses a problematic social issue for young rural men, the film's lingering value is one of hope.
As this award-winning film by Annika Salisbury, Kacie Anning, Grace Bentley and Reina Hiraiwa shows, even cowboys get the blues. But they can be over-comers, too. Mick's story is about creating your own prosperity out of the hand you're dealt.
P4T (Partnering for Transformation), YFC, Sophia Think Tank and the Australian Media Engagement Project are hosting a World Café conversation aimed at raising awareness and moving towards solutions.
World Café Facilitated Conversation
9:30am - 4:00pm Tuesday 4 September
Venue: 69 Bourke St., Melbourne
RSVP 30th August firstname.lastname@example.org
If you or someone you know is thinking about suicide, call Lifeline on 13 11 14.
Girl With a Satchel