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Warwick Thornton talks Sweet Country


Indigenous woman in white shirt and dark skirt with handbag over shoulder stands next to Indigenous man with hat, light shirt and pants standing in the outback with sunset behind.
Sweet Country’s Natassia Gory-Furber and Hamilton John Photographer Mark Rogers
25 Jan 2018

A compelling story of an Aboriginal stockman who kills a white station owner in self-defence sets the scene for Sweet Country, a period Western set in the outback of the Northern Territory in 1929. Forced on the run the stockman and his wife are pursued across the outback through spectacular and harsh desert country.

The acclaimed director of Samson and Delilah, Warwick Thornton brings Sweet Country to the screen. Sharing the movie with worldwide audiences, including the Venice and Sundance film festivals; it is a life far removed from Warwick’s childhood, growing up in Alice Springs watching Western films.

“I used to love watching Westerns. It’s funny you grow up thinking you are the cowboy but as you get older and being this person, you realise you’re the bloody Indian!” Warwick said.

“As you get older and you’re educated more as an Aboriginal in your spirituality and connection to country, you go back and you look at these [Western] films with a better knowledge of who you are and how your people are treated and you see the films in a different light, which is what I’m really excited about,” Warwick said. 

Indigenous man with shoulder length hair and beard wearing a black cap, black t-shirt stands in outback setting.
Director, Warwick Thornton. Photographer Matt Day

Warwick said that many non-Indigenous people have never heard these kind of stories and that it’s largely up to Indigenous people to share them.

“It’s up to us black fellas to get it out there and try and share so we can all be on the same page and have the same amount of information about who we are, where we came from and how this country was built.”

“There’s also a growing number of the younger generation and older generation who are really hungry for Indigenous stories so I think that’s fantastic, non-Indigenous people, who actually want to learn about their country, want to be educated about their country, so they can make better decisions about their country,” Warwick said.

Warwick explains that this knowledge of the past is a key factor in creating a more reconciled Australia, however recognises that not all people are open to the truth.

“It’s very difficult when people don’t want to know about the past, and they design their past to make it non-confrontational and it’s really important that it is confrontational. It should be able to be digested, because it is the past, it isn’t the future, but it is knowledge, more this country knows about who it is and where it came from, the better our future will be,” Warwick said. 

Sweet Country will be released nationally Thursday 25 January 2018. 

Find out more

For more information, read the story at Screen Australia.

Check your local cinemas for screening times.

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