Ivan Sen’s new film, Toomelah, a look at the life and choices of a young boy in a remote community of Australia, will screen as part of imagineNATIVE 2012.
Ten-year-old Daniel doesn’t seem to have a lot of options the tiny town of Toomelah, a former outback mission. He doesn’t like school, so after a few scrapes with the other kids and his teacher, he decides not to bother going back. His parental figures have pretty much checked out, and he can’t go a day in town without someone telling him what a disappointment his father is. Friendship and guidance comes from the local drug dealer and his small posse of thugs. It begins to go to hell, with Daniel caught in the middle, when another drug-dealing gangster returns from prison to reclaim his territory.
From the opening credits of the film, over images of half-lit old athletic trophies, director Ivan Sen sets the tone. Daniel is searching for a male role model, someone to help him find his way to manhood. Alternately bored and angry, Daniel’s search yields nothing but examples of faded and former glory. Sen has constructed the film to evoke Daniel’s boredom and emptiness, something shared by most of Toomelah’s inhabitants. Slow moving shots pan around, but very little usually happens. As the limitless Australian terrain looms in the background, one is struck with the sense that Daniel’s life, by contrast, has nothing but limits.
Though it’s a dramatic work of fiction, it looks and feels like a documentary. Sen’s use of mostly non-professional (and extraordinary talented) actors from nearby communities creates totally believable characters. It’s bleak and honest, and frequently maddening.
Is Toomelah Essential imagineNATIVE viewing?
A fascinating but slow-moving coming of age film, Toomelah is essential viewing for anyone interested in films about the Australian experience.
Toomelah Screening Times
Saturday, October 20, 2012 at 7:00 pm at TIFF Bell Lightbox.
More About This Movie
Toomelah Production Gallery
Latest posts by Pam Fossen (see all)
- The Year in Movies: 7 films I finally got around to in 2012 – December 19, 2012
- Today on the Scene: screenings and film fun for Friday, November 30, 2012 – November 30, 2012
- Today on the Scene: screenings and film fun for Thursday, November 29, 2012 – November 29, 2012