×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Satellite Boy

Straddling the worlds of Aboriginal tradition and Western law with graceful wisdom, resonant generational drama "Satellite Boy" spotlights the diversity of indigenous narratives and the power of storytelling.

With:
With: David Gulpilil, Cameron Wallaby, Joseph Pedley, Rohanna Angus, Dean Daley-Jones, Dolores Roberts, Callum McKenzie, Kaylene Marr. (Yolngu Mandhalpuyngu, English dialogue.)

Straddling the worlds of Aboriginal tradition and Western law with graceful wisdom, generational drama “Satellite Boy” spotlights the diversity of indigenous narratives and the power of storytelling, resonating alongside the likes of recent Australian films like “10 Canoes,” “Samson & Delilah” and “The Sapphires.” Nuanced performances by noted Australian thesp David Gulpilil and 10-year-old newcomer Cameron Wallaby, as well as the extraordinary widescreen compositions of lenser Geoffrey Simpson, will ensure international attention for writer-director Catriona McKenzie’s serenely confident feature debut.

Just outside the town of Wyndham, in the expansive northern Kimberley region of Western Australia, young Pete (Wallaby) lives with his grandfather Jagamarra (Gulpilil) at a windswept and long-abandoned drive-in cinema. Although his elder tries to impart the wisdom of his years with such sage advice as, “This is our land; it’s alive, it feels you, it knows you,” Pete has a more contempo agenda: He wants to open a restaurant there with his absent mother, even though grandfather maintains she’s never coming back.

Their uneasy truce is disrupted when a local mining company claims the land for a storage facility. With only a weekend to get to the nearest unnamed big city to plead his case to company officials, Pete sets off on bicycle. He’s accompanied by his more truculent and unruly mate Kalmain (Wyndham native Joseph Pedley), amenable to a change of scenery, since his tendency toward destructive mischief has once again brought him to the attention of police.

The pair soon becomes lost, forcing Pete to use his wits as well as the knowledge he’s picked up from Jagamarra to survive their impromptu walkabout. When they eventually arrive at their destination, Pete attempts not only to save the property, but also to salvage the relationship with mom, Lynelle (Rohanna Angus), who’d rather take the boy to Perth to pursue her dreams of becoming a beautician.

Though steeped in the realism of Kalmain’s juvenile delinquency and Lynelle’s yearning for a life removed from her cultural heritage, “Satellite Boy” balances these modern dilemmas with a subtle yet reverberant symbolism that embraces the history and spirituality of Aboriginal tradition. McKenzie, a TV vet of indigenous heritage who’s been developing the script since 2005, employs a satisfyingly low-key approach that finds Jagamarra and Pete materializing subtly out of nowhere to begin the film, and disappearing into the vastness to end it, suggesting the timelessness of the struggle.

More than 40 years after his debut at 16 in Nicolas Roeg’s “Walkabout,” Gulpilil adds another perf of mystery and authority to his lengthy resume, while Wallaby and Pedley balance youthful unruliness and engaging naturalism in equal measure.

Simpson’s gorgeous lensing on previously restricted areas around the distinctive sandstone formations of the Bungle Bungle Range leads the first-rate tech contributions.

Satellite Boy

Australia

Production: A Hopscotch (in Australia/New Zealand) release of a Screen Australia, Australian Broadcasting Corp., Screen NSW, ScreenWest, Lotterywest presentation of a Satellite Films production. (International sales: Celluloid Dreams, Paris.) Produced by David Jowsey, Julie Ryan, Catriona McKenzie. Executive producers, Colin McCumstie, Troy Lum. Directed, written by Catriona McKenzie.

Crew: Camera (color, widescreen, HD), Geoffrey Simpson; editor, Henry Dangar; music, David Bridie; production designer, Sam Hobbs; art director, Sam Wilde; costume designer, Maria Pattison; sound (Dolby Digital), Phil Judd; sound designer, Liam Egan; assistant director, Marc Ashton; associate producer, Jub Clerc; casting directors, Clerc, Faith Martin. Reviewed online, Sydney, Australia, Sept. 8, 2012. (In Toronto Film Festival -- Discovery.) Running time: 86 MIN.

Cast: With: David Gulpilil, Cameron Wallaby, Joseph Pedley, Rohanna Angus, Dean Daley-Jones, Dolores Roberts, Callum McKenzie, Kaylene Marr. (Yolngu Mandhalpuyngu, English dialogue.)

More Scene

  • First Look at SAG Awards' Cuban

    First Look at SAG Awards' Cuban-Inspired After-Party (EXCLUSIVE)

    Celebrities at this year’s SAG Awards won’t have to go far for some tropical fun. Sunday’s annual post-show gala, hosted by People magazine for the 23rd year, is set to feature a Cuban-themed party space adjacent to the Shrine Auditorium. More Reviews Concert Review: Lady Gaga Outdoes Her Other Vegas Show With Masterful 'Jazz & [...]

  • DF-10956_R – Gwilym Lee (Brian May) and

    'Bohemian Rhapsody' Producer Confirms Bryan Singer's Reason for Leaving, Says 'No One' Was Attached to Play Mercury

    “Bohemian Rhapsody” producer Graham King provided insight into some of the events surrounding the Golden Globe-winning film Saturday at the Producers Guild Awards Nominees Breakfast, including director Bryan Singer’s departure from the film partway through production. “It’s an unfortunate situation, with like 16, 17 days to go and Bryan Singer just had some issues, his [...]

  • Mj Rodriguez, Nico Santos to Announce

    Mj Rodriguez, Nico Santos to Announce GLAAD Media Award Nominations

    Mj Rodriguez and Nico Santos are set to announce the nominees for the 30th annual GLAAD Media Awards. The “Pose” star and “Crazy Rich Asians” funny man will make the announcement during a live-stream hosted by AT&T and from the AT&T Hello Lounge at the Sundance Film Festival on Friday, Jan. 25. More Reviews Concert Review: Lady [...]

  • Emile Hirsch, Matt SmileyEmile Hirsch hosts

    Emile Hirsch Hosts Smiley Face Art Opening at Mondrian Hotel

    Despite the rain on Wednesday night in West Hollywood, there were plenty of smiles inside the Mondrian hotel thanks to artist Matt Smiley‘s Refresh exhibition. Not only is Smiley his real last name, but several of his paintings and other pieces in the exhibit feature smiley faces. More Reviews Concert Review: Lady Gaga Outdoes Her [...]

  • Randall Park, left, and Constance Wu

    Constance Wu Wants Her 'Fresh Off the Boat' Co-Star Randall Park to Host the Oscars

    While the Academy may have decided to go hostless for this year’s Oscars, that doesn’t mean the rest of Hollywood has stopped thinking about who would be a good choice for the emceeing gig. Former host Whoopi Goldberg recently suggested Ken Jeong. More Reviews Concert Review: Lady Gaga Outdoes Her Other Vegas Show With Masterful [...]

  • 'Schitt's Creek' Stars Reveal Dream Guest

    'Schitt's Creek' Cast Reveals Dream Guest Stars: Oprah, Beyonce and ...

    “Schitt’s Creek” has big dreams. Dan Levy, who stars as David on the series, says his wish list of guest stars includes Oprah, Beyonce, Mariah Carey and Gwyneth Paltrow. “All for different reasons, none of whom we’ll get,” he cracked at the Critics’ Choice Awards. More Reviews Concert Review: Lady Gaga Outdoes Her Other Vegas [...]

  • Barbra Streisand and Gisele Bundchen

    Barbra Streisand and Gisele Bündchen to Be Honored at UCLA Science Gala

    Science can be very glamorous. It certainly will be during Oscar week on Feb. 21 when the UCLA Institute of the Environment & Sustainability (IoES) honors Barbra Streisand and Gisele Bündchen for environmental activism at its annual Hollywood for Science Gala. More Reviews Concert Review: Lady Gaga Outdoes Her Other Vegas Show With Masterful 'Jazz [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content