Grant Saunders’ film to screen on NITV

Television screening: Ray and Grant Saunders during the filming of Teach a Man to Fish, which will be aired on NITV on October 28.
Television screening: Ray and Grant Saunders during the filming of Teach a Man to Fish, which will be aired on NITV on October 28.

The documentary film Teach a Man to Fish will air on NITV on Sunday, October 28 at 8.30pm.

A filmmaker, academic and musician, was struggling with his identity, the film follows Grant’s  journey of self-discovery.

As a fair-skinned, middle-aged Aboriginal man, with a Norwegian wife and two young children, Grant felt disconnected from both his country and his family, after spending more than 20 years away from his Taree home.

Grant spent years bottling up hurt and anger from experiencing overt racism.

Filmed over a decade, Teach a Man to Fish finds Grant dissecting his Aboriginal identity, as well as exploring the cultural identity of his children.

He faces the dilemma of figuring out how he will instil pride and understanding in the kids of his Biripi culture, community and country, while also acknowledging both his mother’s and wife’s cultural heritage.

Like his father Ray and his grandfather Horry before him, Grant had always secretly wanted to be a fisherman. 

Their fishing business meant the world to the Saunders family and held them together, providing for Horry and grandmother Faith’s six sons and three daughters.

The business was more than just a job – it was an act of defiance in a time when Aboriginal people had limited work opportunities and lived in a segregated society.

When Grant’s uncle Steve, his father’s main fishing partner, quit fishing Grant latched onto the opportunity to take his place and fulfill a childhood dream.

But it was also a chance to spend time with his father, to reconnect after their relationship had broken down some time ago.

When he started filming 10 years ago, Grant intended to tell the story of the politics and family history behind possibly the oldest Aboriginal commercial fishing business on the East Coast, but found that his own very personal story was inextricable from what unfolded before him.

Teach a Man to Fish follows Grant’s personal journey back home to pick up the family fishing trade and learn that there is infinitely more to fishing than he ever expected.

“NITV is extremely proud to share this story which says so much about contemporary Aboriginal experience and the lives touched by it,” NITV channel manager Tanya Orman, said.

NITV is extremely proud to share this story which says so much about contemporary Aboriginal experience and the lives touched by it.

NITV channel manager Tanya Orman

“Set against the captivating backdrop of Biripi Country (Taree) this film gently brings audience into a complex world where family legacy and relations, Aboriginal culture, fishing practice and politics combine to pose deep questions about modern identity. 

Teach a Man to Fish is an intimate account of one man’s search for meaning that is at once open, honest and sure to make you feel good,” she said.

Teach a Man to Fish is a Jotz Productions and Sonic Nomad film, commissioned by NITV, with funding from Create NSW and developed with support from Screen Australia’s Indigenous Department.

The film was first premiered at the Sydney Film Festival and has also been shown at the Manning Entertainment Centre and Old Bar.