An immersive documentary-game

My Grand­mother’s Lingo

Charting one young Aboriginal woman’s fight to save her culture by learning her native language, Marra.
For
Wins + Honours
...awesome!
Amnesty International Australia
Background

My Grandmother’s Lingo is an immersive web documentary that combines voice-activated technology, illustration, animation, and music to tell the story of a young Aboriginal woman from the remote North East Arnhem Land community of Ngukurr – Angelina Joshua.

Angelina’s efforts to preserve her language during a time when many Indigenous tongues are in danger of extinction are at the heart of this work. Once gone, they are gone forever, so we wanted the experience to not only convey Angelina’s powerful story but teach users in a fun and engaging way.

Background

Our approach was to bring the user into the story by creating participatory moments to learn some Marra, Angelina’s mother tongue. By combining cutting-edge voice recognition technology with hand-drawn illustrations from renowned Gomeroi and Mandandanji artist Jake Duczynski and original music from Indigenous music producer Kuren (aka Curtis Kennedy), we were able to beautifully highlight this vital story and encourage greater awareness of the plight of endangered languages.

Appealing to young, curious minds and adults alike, the result is an evocative game-like experience that transcends traditional storytelling methods in favour of something more involved, intimate and ultimately more revealing than conventional web experiences.

Our inspiration

We were first introduced to Angelina through our journalist colleague who told us about a friend she’d made in the Northern Territory. Over many years, whilst reporting for the ABC, Gina would drop in and visit Angelina, to get an update and see how her journey was going. She would sometimes record their interviews, and after a while, she edited together a short audio vignette of Angelina’s story. Hearing her passionately reflect on her mission to save her ancestor’s language proved to be our inspiration. Motivated by a sense of urgency, we assembled a team of talented creatives and technologists to bring Angelina’s story to life.

The language it’s our identity—culture, totems, countries, and skin names. It’s dying, you know—it’s fading away really slowly.
Angelina Joshua
Education and Learning

Interactive documentary as a learning resource

Being part game, part animation, My Grandmother’s Lingo considers how gaming technology and voice-activated interactions can engage and teach young audiences across Australia and around the world about underrepresented Indigenous stories. It is being taught in Australian schools to secondary students as part of the curriculum, focusing on F-10 learning areas such as Intercultural Capability, Media Arts, Critical & Creative Thinking and English.

A fantastic example of online interactive storytelling with a cultural message that needs to be heard—and, more important, spoken.
Keri Elmsly
Juror
Communication Arts Competition
For
  • SBS
Industry Recognition
  • Walkley Award
    • Excellence in Journalism for Multimedia Storytelling
  • Webby Award
    • Winner – Film & Video – Best Use of Interactive Video
    • Finalist – Website – Activism
    • Finalist – Website – Best Use of Animation or Motion Graphics
  • SXSW Interactive Innovation
    • Award for Responsive Design
  • FWA
    • Site of the Day
  • Sheffield Doc Fest
    • Alternate Realities – Best Interactive
Delivery
  • Development
  • Design
Collaborators
  • Jake Duczynski
    • Animation and Illustration
  • Kuren
    • Music
  • Martin Peralta
    • Sound Design
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