Toomelah (film)

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Theatrical film poster
Directed by Ivan Sen
Produced byDavid Jowsey
Written byIvan Sen
StarringDaniel Connors
Christopher Edwards
Michael Connors
Music byIvan Sen
CinematographyIvan Sen
Edited byIvan Sen
Distributed by Visit Films
Release date
  • 11 May 2011 (2011-05-11)(Cannes)
Running time
106 minutes

Toomelah is a 2011 Australian drama film written and directed by Ivan Sen and starring Daniel Connors, Christopher Edwards, and Michael Connors. [1] It was shown at the 2011 Cannes Film Festival on 11 May in the Un Certain Regard program, where it received a two-minute long standing ovation. [2] [3] The film's story takes place in Toomelah Station, New South Wales.

Ivan Sen Australian film director

Ivan Sen is an Australian indigenous filmmaker. He is a director, screenwriter and cinematographer, as well as an editor, composer and sound designer. His work is both extensive and acclaimed in Australian circles.

2011 Cannes Film Festival Film festival

The 64th Cannes Film Festival was held from 11 to 22 May 2011. American actor Robert De Niro served as the president of the jury for the main competition and French filmmaker Michel Gondry headed the jury for the short film competition. South Korean film director Bong Joon-ho was the head of the jury for the Caméra d'Or prize, which is awarded to the best first-time filmmaker. The American film The Tree of Life, directed by Terrence Malick won the Palme d'Or.

<i lang="fr" title="French language text">Un Certain Regard</i> Section of the Cannes Film Festival

Un certain regard is a section of the Cannes Film Festival's official selection. It is run at the salle Debussy, parallel to the competition for the Palme d'Or. This section was introduced in 1978 by Gilles Jacob.



Daniel is a ten-year-old boy living in Toomelah, NSW. After being suspended from school for threatening to stab a classmate with a pencil and finding there is little to do in his town, he decides he wants to be a part of the gang controlling the drug trade in his township, so he decides to help Linden, a well known local drug dealer. Bruce, one of Linden's rivals, is released from prison and a turf war erupts. Meanwhile, Daniel faces problems at school and in his family, such as his mother's addictions, the estrangement of his alcoholic father and the return of his aunt who was forcibly removed from the mission as a child during the Stolen Generations. [3] [4] [5]

Toomelah Town in New South Wales, Australia

Toomelah Station is an indigenous community in the far north of inland New South Wales, Australia within the Boggabilla locality in Moree Plains Shire. The mission was established in the 1930s. Toomelah is the home of about 300 Gamilaroi people, located north of Moree on the MacIntyre River and is close to the town of Goondiwindi across the border in Queensland.

New South Wales State of Australia

New South Wales is a state on the east coast of Australia. It borders Queensland to the north, Victoria to the south, and South Australia to the west. Its coast borders the Tasman Sea to the east. The Australian Capital Territory is an enclave within the state. New South Wales' state capital is Sydney, which is also Australia's most populous city. In December 2018, the population of New South Wales was over 8 million, making it Australia's most populous state. Just under two-thirds of the state's population, 5.1 million, live in the Greater Sydney area. Inhabitants of New South Wales are referred to as New South Welshmen.

Stolen Generations Australian aboriginal children forcibly acculturated into White Australian society

The Stolen Generations were the children of Australian Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander descent who were removed from their families by the Australian Federal and State government agencies and church missions, under acts of their respective parliaments. The removals of those referred to as "half-caste" children were conducted in the period between approximately 1905 and 1967, although in some places mixed-race children were still being taken into the 1970s.



When asked why he made a film about Toomelah, director Ivan Sen said:

I’ve always wanted to make a film out there because some of my earliest memories come from there. I’ve never lived there, but I used to go there all the time… But my mother grew up there and all her family come from there so there’s always been a connection there. As a result, I’ve always wanted to go back there and do something, make this film, a drama. It took a long time work out a method in which to do it, but the story came from a very intense observation period where I went out there for a few weeks and just followed a few teenage boys around and followed the little boy around who played Daniel and wrote down everything I saw, even the dialogue I heard. All of that all came together in the screenplay.

Ivan Sen, The Reel Bits. [5]

Before filming, Sen obtained permission to film in Toomelah from the town's elders. Sen shot most of the scenes himself, as many of the actors in the movie are his personal friends and he believed their acting would be restricted if an entire conventional crew did the filming. [3]


2011 Asia Pacific Screen Awards Best Performance by an ActorDaniel ConnorsNominated [6]
UNESCO Screen AwardToomelahWon [7]
2011 Pacific Meridian Film Festival Grand PrixWon [7]

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  1. Smith, Ian Hayden (2012). International Film Guide 2012. p. 64. ISBN   978-1908215017.
  2. Swift, Brendan (15 April 2011), "Toomelah and Sleeping Beauty selected for Cannes International Film Festival",, Inside Film, retrieved 12 May 2011
  3. 1 2 3 4 Byrnes, Paul (24 November 2011). "Intimate glimpse into rugged world". The Sydney Morning Herald . Retrieved 20 December 2014.
  4. 1 2 "Toomelah Press Kit" (PDF), Official film website, retrieved 12 May 2011
  5. 1 2 Gray, Richard (4 December 2011). "Interview: Ivan Sen on Toomelah and his Western project Mystery Road". The Reel Bits. Retrieved 20 December 2014.
  6. Buchanan, Mark; Ellis, Scott (12 October 2011). "Daniel's time to shine". The Sydney Morning Herald . Retrieved 20 December 2014.
  7. 1 2 "Toomelah". Bunya Productions. Retrieved 20 December 2014.