The Tall Man is the story of Palm Island, a tropical paradise in Australia’s Far North. It is the story of Cameron Doomadgee, who in 2004 was arrested for swearing at Senior Sergeant Chris Hurley – the ‘tall man’ of the title. 45 minutes later, Doomadgee was dead. His injuries were like those of someone who’d been in a fatal car crash. The police claimed he had tripped on a step.
The subsequent trial of Hurley – who had been decorated for his work in Aboriginal communities – made headlines day after day, shadowed by Queensland police threatening to strike.
This extraordinary documentary takes the audience into the coronial inquest; into the riot that rocketed the story to the nation’s front pages; the charging of Hurley for murder; into the once notorious Queensland police force; the impact to Doomadgee’s family and into the Indigenous community of Palm Island – places where people live lives like no others, have a relationship with the land like no others, and a history, culture and a catastrophic present like no others. This is Australia, but an Australia few of us have seen.
Based on the award-winning book by Chloe Hooper, The Tall Man is a gripping and provocative film that exposes the inescapable complexities of Australia’s racial politics, and a haunting moral puzzle that no viewer will forget.
In cinemas November 17. The Tall Man is currently on the VCE Literature list.