Sun Kissed: Why you can’t just ‘get over’ the past

Every year, Melbourne hosts the Human Rights Film Festival, a collection of art, media and documentaries illustrating the overwhelming evidence that the world is not a equal place and the disillusioning reality that many around the world live in.

I purchased a mini pass this year – 5 movies for the bargain price of $50. And while I’ve still got three movies to go, I think Sun Kissed will remain by far the highlight of the festival for me – in terms of how powerful it was, how much I’m still thinking about it and the subtle way it went about exposing the truth that colonialism isn’t over and that the past can never be something to be neatly filed away.

Sun Kissed follows Dory and Yolanda, a couple living on ‘The Rez’ – part of the Navajo Reservation in New Mexico. They have two children, both with XP, an incredibly rare genetic condition. The film takes place over three years and exposes the ugly reality of why XP is so common on their reservation. This isn’t meant to be a summary or description of the film events, but more a reflection on what I came away thinking after the film ended.

The past impacts on everything. Decisions made five, twenty, one hundred, five hundred years ago impact us today and everyday. My life is what it was because several people in England and Scotland decided to get on a ship to New Zealand over one hundred years ago. Because of that decision I am allowed to live in Australia visa free with no working restrictions, I can travel almost anywhere in the world and I am lucky enough to have been born into incredible privilege: I take for granted matters such as the ability to choose my life and to access basic human rights.

The more I’ve learnt and the more I’ve become aware of this privilege, I’ve realised just how unjust the world really is and how stacked the odds are for the majority of its inhabitants. Dory and Yolanda’s present are impacted by their past and the devastating impact of having two children with disabilities comes about not because of anything they’ve done wrong but because of the choices of people many years ago, choices that Dory and Yolanda are powerless to do anything about.

This may not be a succinct review and is really more of a stream of consciousness but if there is any way at all for you to access the film, I really do recommend it. We are all living in a world where we are lucky or unlucky based on the history that came before us.