I'm a writer/creative person living in Brisbane. Visit my work at: www.emilynuhn.com
Published July 21st 2013
Satellite Boy is a film that will take you to great places
I knew I might be in for a treat before seeing Satellite Boy, for I had heard great things. It premièred at the Toronto International Film Festival, received a very special mention at the Berlin Film Festival, and the international reviews promised great things.
The film starts off as if you are about to plunge into the heart of an indigenous fable, which is soon transformed into a well-told story about the tear between indigenous tradition and the rapid developments of contemporary life. It tells the story of Pete (Cameron Wallaby) an eleven-year-old boy who lives in an abandoned cinema in the heart of the Kimberley. He lives with his grand father, Jagamarra (David Gulpilil),, as his mother (Rohana Angus) has recently moved to the city (Perth) to do a hospitality course. Jagamarra still embodies and lives his life according to indigenous tradition, something Pete cannot stand. And so Pete is left with nothing but dreams of when his mother will return so that they can open a restaurant together and live the modern life.
The opening scene (courtesy of satelliteboymovie.com)
But when the modern world, in the form of a mining company, encroaches upon their abandoned cinema their world is turned upside down. They are told that they have to move, with zero compensation, so that their home can be destroyed in favor of mining priorities. Determined to save his home Pete and his troubled best friend Kalmain (Joseph Pedley) set out to find the mining company's head quarters in the city. From here a story of friendship unfolds, as they set about on their three day journey to save everything that matters to Pete.
Many themes are explored such as the tear between old and new, tradition and progress, nature and technology, duty and freedom, urban and rural, family and independance. But in essence this is a coming of age film that celebrates the importance of family, true friendship and cultural and spiritual identity. There are some obvious biases to the film, but it is never overbearing. For instance, it doesn't dwell on over sensationalized images of indigenous youth. There are some grimmer issues briefly touched on, but this just adds context as opposed to being dark and heavy. It actually gets it's point of view across nicely, as any good film should.
The film plays out at a gentle, unhurried pace. Although most of the actors are children their performances are naturalistic and beyond their years. This is all complemented and enhanced by the natural beauty of the Australian landscape and of course the well executed cinematography of the director. It is a film that will really pull you in, leaving you to feel the weight of reality when its all over.
Pete at the abandoned cinema he calls home (courtesy of satelliteboymovie.com)
Overall Satellite Boy is an engaging, thought provoking film that is sure to touch a place in your heart. Each part of the film works harmoniously to create something fresh and unique, which certainly beats your typical Hollywood film any day. So take a chance and see it, even if it is just for the gorgeous Australian landscape visuals… but it certainly has a lot more to offer than that. We learn some great things from Pete, and this definitely worth a bit of your time.