A man teaches his younger brother an important lesson through an ancient fable in this period comedy drama shot in Australia, and the first feature film made in the Aboriginal language of Ganalbingu. As narrator David Gulpilil Ridjimiraril Dalaithngu sets up the story, we watch a group of tribesmen led by elder Minygululu (Peter Minygululu) set out on an expedition to gather bark for canoe building and collect the precious eggs of the magpie geese. It has become clear to Minygululu that his younger brother Dayindi (Jamie Dayindi Gulpilil Dalaithngu) is infatuated with the youngest of his three wives, and Minygululu wants to be sure Dayindi doesn't do something he'll regret later on. To teach his brother a lesson, Minygululu shares with him a long story about Ridjimiraril (Crusoe Kurddal), a warrior who finds that his brother Yeeralparil (also played by Jamie Dayindi Gulpilil Dalaithngu) has become a rival for the affections of his bride. However, while Minygululu's story caries a clear message for his brother, it also goes on long enough with enough twists, turns, and digressions that it gives Dayindi little opportunity to get into mischief during the trip. Ten Canoes received its world premiere at Australia's Adelaide Festival of Arts, and was first screened in North America at the 2006 Toronto Film Festival.
by Mark Deming synopsis