Ivan Sen

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Ivan Sen 2013 (cropped).jpg

Ivan Sen is an Australian indigenous filmmaker.

Early life[edit]

His mother was Aboriginal and father, European. He was raised in Inverell, New South Wales, Australia, growing up in Tamworth and Inverell.

He studied filmmaking at the Australian Film, Television and Radio School, where he produced his first short films, working with the crew he continues to work with today.

Throughout the late 1990s Sen worked on numerous short films, before making his feature film debut with Beneath Clouds in 2002.


Sen's first feature-length work, Beneath Clouds, filmed on a $2.5 million budget won him global acclaim, screening at the 2003 Sundance Film Festival and winning the Premiere First Movie Award at the 2002 Berlin Film Festival and the 2002 Best Director Award at the Australian Film Institute Awards. For the screenplay, he drew on his own background as the child of an Aboriginal mother and an absent white father. The film follows two teenagers, Lena (Dannielle Hall) and Vaughn (Damian Pitt) who are hitchhiking their way from a rural New South Wales town to Sydney, each for different reasons. The film explores many of the racial difficulties in their society as well as the way the choices each makes can affect how they turn out.

In 2009, the Message Sticks Indigenous Film Festival held at the Sydney Opera House saw the world premiere of Sen's Fire Talker, a documentary biopic about political activist, Aboriginal footballer, and statesman Charlie Perkins.[1]

Sen's second feature-length film, Dreamland, screened at the 2010 Melbourne International Film Festival.

Most recently Sen's new feature-length film Mystery Road premiered at the Sydney Film Festival in June 2013 and features many well known Australian actors such as Aaron Pedersen, Hugo Weaving, Jack Thompson, Ryan Kwanten and Tasma Walton. The film is also set to show at the 2013 Toronto International Film Festival.[2]


  • Tears (1998) : Two teenagers walk from the certainty of life on the "mish" to a bus stop and enter uncertain dreams of a life somewhere else. At the bus stop both of them have to make a decision.
  • Who Is Evelyn Orcher? (documentary)[3]
  • The Dreamers (documentary)
  • Beneath Clouds (feature-length drama)
  • Dust (short drama)
  • Wind (short drama)
  • Vanish (documentary)
  • Journey (short drama)
  • Warm Strangers (short drama)
  • Shifting Shelter (documentary)
  • A Sister's Love (documentary, 2006)
  • Fire Talker (documentary, 2006): A film about Aboriginal activist and statesman Charlie Perkins.
  • Dreamland (2010 feature film)
  • Toomelah (2011 feature film) [4]
  • Mystery Road (feature film-Thriller, 2013)


Year Award Category Film Result
1998 Cork International Film Festival Best International Short Film Tears Won
1999 Australian Film Institute Best Short Fiction Film Wind Nominated
2000 Clermont-Ferrand International Short Film Festival International Competition Won
2002 Australian Film Institute Best Direction Beneath Clouds Won
Best Music Nominated
Best Screenplay Nominated
Berlin International Film Festival First Movie Award Won
Golden Berlin Bear Nominated
Film Critics Circle of Australia Awards Best Director Nominated
Best Music Nominated
IF Awards Best Direction Won
2011 Asia Pacific Screen Awards UNESCO Award Toomelah Won
Cannes Film Festival Un Certain Regard Award Nominated
Cinemanila International Film Festival International Competition Nominated
2012 AACTA Awards Byron Kennedy Award Won
2014 Best Direction Mystery Road Nominated
Best Original Screenplay Nominated
Best Editing Nominated
Australian Film Critics Association Awards Best Director Won
Best Screenplay Won
Best Cinematography Won
Film Critics Circle of Australia Awards Best Director Won
Best Script Nominated
Best Cinematographer Nominated
Best Editing Nominated
Best Music Nominated



  • Lawson, Sylvia (2006). "Along the 'pot-holed track': meditations on mixed inheritance in recent work by Ivan Sen and Dennis Mcdermott". Aboriginal History 30: 211–217. 

External links[edit]