2018 Australian Film Of the Year

SWEET COUNTRY named  ‘Australian Film of the Year’ by the Catholic Film Office

The jury of the Australian Catholic Office for Film & Broadcasting has awarded its annual prize to Warwick Thornton’s SWEET COUNTRY.

The film is set in 1929 in the outback of Australia’s Northern Territory, and tells the story of an  Indigenous farmhand, Sam Kelly (Hamilton Morris), who kills a white man in self-defence, and goes on the run from a small posse, led by Sergeant Fletcher (Bryan Brown), which pursues him to hunt him down. Sam is befriended by a concerned Christian preacher (Sam Neill).

The film is based on actual events, and the director of the movie is Indigenous. It targets black humiliation and white racism, and depicts terrible injustice in a country hostile to Indigenous peoples. Warwick Thornton directs a movie with historical and emotive significance, the film suggesting strongly that racism is still prevalent in a “sweet country”, called Australia.

It has striking images of the outback, and its cinematography is exceptional. Under Thornton’s assured direction scenes of the outback capture the isolation and harshness of the land brilliantly.

This is a powerful film of Indigenous hardship and injustice at an important period in Australia’s history. The movie argues persuasively that Australians can live a much better life in the future by knowing and understanding the deep pain and tragedy of its past.

The Jury also commended Benjamin Gilmour’s Jirga.

Fr Richard Leonard SJ, the Director of the Australian Catholic Film Office is available for interviews or comment on 0409 120 928.

This year’s jury: Rev Dr Richard Leonard (chair); Fr Peter Malone MSC; Professor Peter Sheehan; Mr Callum Ryan.

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