Screened as part of NZIFF 2008

River of No Return 2007

Directed by Darlene Johnson

Memorable and revealing encounter with Yolngu woman Frances Daingangan whose part in Ten Canoes took her from traditional tribal life to the red carpet at Cannes.

Australia In English and Yolngu with English subtitles
53 minutes DigiBeta

Director, Screenplay


Simon Smith


Denise Haslem
Bill Russo


Tom Heuzenroeder


Frances Daingangan

Frances Daingangan, the subject of Darlene Johnson‘s documentary, and in a sense its star, is a Yolngu woman from North East Arnhemland. She is a 45-year-old mother of three and grandmother of six. Her life has been tough, but despite every encouragement to do so, she‘s never quite relinquished the powerful girlish fantasy of becoming a movie actress like Marilyn Monroe. When Rolf de Heer was casting Ten Canoes in Ramingining, he met the vivacious Frances working in a shop. He thought she would be perfect for the role of the second wife, "Nowalingu", but he can have had little idea of the depth of experience or historical knowledge she would bring to the part. Two years later she was walking the red carpet at Cannes. Johnson, who brought her portrait of actor David Gulpilil to the Festival in 2003, films Frances in her community, where she discusses the stark circumstances of her life candidly and ponders her options. It‘s a revealing encounter with a woman richly imbued with two cultures who receives scant visible support from either. — BG