Bran Nue Dae (film)

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Bran Nue Dae
Bran Nue Dae poster.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed by Rachel Perkins
Produced by
Screenplay by
Based on Bran Nue Dae
by Jimmy Chi
Music byCezary Skubiszewski
Cinematography Andrew Lesnie
Edited byRochelle Oshlack
Distributed by Roadshow Films
Release date
  • 9 August 2009 (2009-08-09)(Melbourne)
  • 14 January 2010 (2010-01-14)
Running time
85 minutes [1]
BudgetA$7 million [2]
Box officeA$$7.5 million [3]

Bran Nue Dae is a 2009 Australian musical comedy-drama film directed by Rachel Perkins and written by Perkins and Reg Cribb. A feature film adaptation of the 1990 stage musical Bran Nue Dae by Jimmy Chi, the film tells the story of the coming of age of an Aboriginal Australian teenager on a road trip in the late 1960s.



In Broome in 1969, Willie Johnson (Rocky McKenzie) is having trouble wooing his girl Rosie (Jessica Mauboy), who ends up with a bandleader named Lester (Dan Sultan). His mother Theresa (Ningali Lawford) sends him back to boarding school in Perth to continue his education for the priesthood. One night, he and several others steal food from the college kitchen but are caught. Willie admits to being the thief, but runs away before he can be punished. He spends the night on the streets of Perth before meeting up with 'Uncle' Tadpole (Ernie Dingo), who offers to help him get home. They go to Fremantle where Tadpole allows himself to be run over by a Kombi van, hoping that the two hippies inside will help him. Not realising how far it will be to Broome, the hippies, 'Slippery' the German (Tom Budge) and Annie (Missy Higgins), his girlfriend, agree to drive them.

Father Benedictus (Geoffrey Rush), head of the College, has seen Willie's potential and determines to locate him; through Tadpole's homeless friends, he learns that Willie is heading to Broome. The travellers drive north, stopping at a roadhouse where Willie meets the tarty 'Roadhouse Betty' (Magda Szubanski). Tadpole steals some food, a bottle of wine, and an audio tape, nearly causing them to get shot by Betty, but they manage to escape. Slippery becomes disillusioned, and leaves Willie and Tadpole behind in the middle of nowhere; Tadpole curses the hippies by pointing a bone, and the van promptly breaks down.

Willie then gets a ride with a passing truck carrying the members of a football team. They end up in Port Hedland where he meets flirty Roxanne (Deborah Mailman), who takes him to the 'condom tree' and offers to 'show him a good time', but her boyfriend turns up and a fight ensues. Willie is rescued by Tadpole, who says that all young men end up there at some point. The next morning, they are driving along a desert road when a hung-over Roxanne emerges from the back seat, startling everyone. While smoking some pot, they are discovered by police and arrested, despite Annie's attempts at stopping the police from arresting them. At the police station, Slippery reveals that his real name is Wolfgang Benedictus. The police then put them in a jail cell for a night.

They are released next morning, and drive on to Broome, where they go to the bar where Rosie is performing. Willie tries to win her back, but ends up in a fight with Lester, only to be disrupted by a church temperance march, which invites everyone to the beach to testify. Willie tells Rosie he loves her, and they kiss. At the beach, Willie's mother reveals that she had a son to another man, who turns out to be Father Benedictus. Wolfgang is their son. Tadpole is spotted by Willie's mother, and she tells Willie that he is Tadpole's son.


Missy Higgins, 2012.jpg
Magda Szubanski 2013.jpg
Ernie Dingo.jpg
Dan Sultan @ Sir Stewart Bovell Park (2 1 2011) (5356057159).jpg
Jessica Mauboy, Missy Higgins, Magda Szubanski, (top) Geoffrey Rush, Ernie Dingo, and Dan Sultan (bottom) play the actors on Australian musician film.


Bran Nue Dae premiered at the Melbourne International Film Festival on its closing night on 8 August 2009. [10] The film made its international debut at the Toronto International Film Festival at the Scotiabank Theatre [11] on 12 September 2009. [12] The film will be among the lineup of out-of-competition films to be screened at the Sundance Film Festival in 2010. [13] The film made its official theatrical premiere at the Sun Pictures theatre in Broome, Western Australia on 8 December 2009 where the stars of the film walked a "red dirt" carpet. [14] In the lead up to the premiere on the day, stars of the film Mauboy, Sultan, Higgins, and Dingo put on a public performance with the Kuckles band in Broome's Chinatown. [14]

Box office

The film was theatrically released in Australia on 14 January 2010 [4] and had an opening weekend rank of No. 6, averaging $6,977 at 231 screens for a gross of $1.6 million, [15] $3.7 million in its first two weeks [16] and eventually grossing more than $7.5 million. [3] The film "... has since become one of the Top 50 Australian films of all time at the local box office." [16]

Critical reception

The film received generally mixed reviews. Review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes reports that 56% of critics have given the film a positive review, based on 61 reviews with an average score of 5.9/10. The website's critical consensus is: "It's original and high-spirited, but Bran Nue Dae is also uneven and sometimes overly kitschy." [17] On Metacritic, the film has a weighted average score of 54 out of 100, based on 22 critics, indicating "mixed or average reviews". [18]

Dennis Harvey of Variety said "It retains that dated once-almost-hip look – like Up with People", but it contained "blandly stereotypical characters in a trite road-trip narrative" and in regards to younger audiences, claimed "There's scant real dancing, mostly forgettable, showtune-type songs and no ethnic authenticity." [19] Craig Mathieson of SBS Films commented that "Bran Nue Dae has a daffy, garish energy that's reflected in brisk pacing and up-tempo tunes". On director Perkins, he stated "Visually, Perkins is not a natural fit for this material", comparing it to her 1998 feature Radiance , but "here she enthusiastically takes to the moments of farce and productions numbers." Mathieson added that the "frames feel cluttered, with an occasional echo of the amped-up musical melodrama" but concluded approvingly that Bran Nue Dae was similar to the 1982 Australian musical film Starstruck in that it "carries the day with energy and self-belief." [1] The Age 's Philippa Hawker praised the cast, stating Dingo was "terrific as Uncle Tadpole", for Rush who "brings an idiosyncratic physical energy and an extravagant German accent to the role" and newcomer Jessica Mauboy brought "sweetness and confidence to the role of Rosie". [20]


The following is a list of awards that Bran Nue Dae or the cast have been nominated for or won:

AACTA Awards
(2010 AFI Awards)
Best Supporting Actress Deborah Mailman Won
Best Original Music ScoreCezary Skubiszewski
Jimmy Chi
Patrick Duttoo Bin Amat
Garry Gower
Michael Manolis Mavromatis
Stephen Pigram
Best SoundAndrew Neil
Steve Burgess
Peter Mills
Mario Vaccaro
Blair Slater
David Bridie
Scott Montgomery
Best Costume DesignMargot WilsonNominated
Macquarie AFI Award for Best Adapted ScreenplayReg Cribb
Rachel Perkins
Jimmy Chi
FCCA Awards Best Music ScoreCezary SkubiszewskiWon
Best Supporting ActressDeborah MailmanNominated
Best Director Rachel Perkins Nominated
Best FilmRobyn Kershaw
Graeme Isaac


Bran Nue Dae-Official Soundtrack
Soundtrack album by
Various Artists
Released15 January 2010 (2010-01-15)
Genre Rhythm & Blues
Rock and Roll
Label Sony Music Australia
Producer David Bridie
Cezary Skubiszewski
Alternative cover

The official soundtrack was released on 15 January 2010. [22]

All tracks are written by Jimmy Chi, Kuckles, and Cezary Skubiszewski.

1."Bran Nue Dae" Dan Sultan 2:06
2."All The Way Jesus" Jessica Mauboy 2:34
3."Seeds That You Might Sow"Dan Sultan2:19
4."Feel Like Going Back Home" Ernie Dingo & Missy Higgins 2:19
5."Light a Light"Jessica Mauboy & Brendon Boney2:46
6."Nothing I Would Rather Be"Bran Nue Dae Cast1:55
7."Nyul Nyul Girl"Dan Sultan2:42
8."Broome Love Theme"Bran Nue Dae Gypsy Orchestra2:06
9."Long Way Away from My Country"Ernie Dingo2:34
10."Is You Mah Baby"Ernie Dingo2:37
11."Six White Boomers" Rolf Harris 3:22
12."Zorba's Dance"David Bridie2:12
13."Afterglow"Missy Higgins3:13
14."Listen to the News"Ernie Dingo4:43
15."Black Girl"Dan Sultan4:10
16."Stand by Your Man"Jessica Mauboy2:56
17."Nothing I Would Rather Be"Brendon Boney and Geoffrey Rush 1:52
18."Road Movie Medley"Bran Nue Dae Gypsy Orchestra1:54
19."Child of Glory"Bob Faggetter1:58
20."Going Back Home"Stephen Pigram3:42
21."Bran Nue Dae (Millya Rumarra Recording)" Jimmy Chi 4:25
Chart performance
Chart (2010)Peak
Australian ARIA Albums Chart [23] 29

See also

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