One Night the Moon

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One Night the Moon
OneNightTheMoon still1.jpg
Paul Kelly, Memphis Kelly, Kaarin Fairfax
Singing lullaby "One Night the Moon"
Directed by Rachel Perkins
Produced by Kevin Lucas
Paul Humfress
Aanya Whitehead
Written by John Romeril
Rachel Perkins
Starring Paul Kelly
Music by Paul Kelly
Kev Carmody
Mairead Hannan
Cinematography Kim Batterham
Edited by Karen Johnson
Distributed by Dendy Films
Release dates
8 November 2001
Running time
57 minutes
Country Australia
Language English

One Night the Moon is a 2001 Australian musical non-feature film starring husband and wife team Paul Kelly, a singer-songwriter, and Kaarin Fairfax, a film and television actress, and their daughter Memphis Kelly.[1] Directed by Rachel Perkins and written by Perkins with John Romeril, it was filmed on Andyamathanha land in the Flinders Ranges, South Australia for six weeks in early 2000.[1][2] Kelton Pell portrayed an Aboriginal tracker, Albert Yang with Ruby Hunter playing his wife, who searches for the missing child.[3] Musical score was by Kelly, Kev Carmody and Mairead Hannan, and with other artists they also contributed to the soundtrack.[3][4] The film won ten awards, including two Australian Film Institute (AFI) Awards.[5]

One Night the Moon was inspired by the story of indigenous tracker, Alexander Riley as depicted in Black Tracker (1997), a documentary directed by Riley's grandson, Michael Riley.[6][7] Alexander Riley had worked for the New South Wales police in Dubbo in the early 1900s, finding wanted criminals, missing persons and hidden caches.[6] Composer/singer Mairead Hannan saw the documentary and formed a project with her sister Deirdre Hannan, Kelly, Carmody, Alice Garner, Romeril and Perkins.[7] Aside from the search for a missing child, the film deals with the racist attitude depicted by the father's refusal to use an indigenous tracker.[2][7] The film was Paul Kelly's cinematic debut, while his then wife, Fairfax had a lead role in two related TV mini-series Harp in the South and Poor Man's Orange in 1987, and roles in films Belinda (1988) and Young Einstein (1989).[8] Fairfax had her film debut with a minor role in 1982's Starstruck which had Paul Kelly and the Dots supplying a song for the soundtrack.[9][10]


Set in the 1930s Australian Outback, starring singer Paul Kelly as a farmer, Jim Ryan, newly settled in the area. He is the father of a girl, Emily (Memphis Kelly, his real life daughter), who climbs out the window of their farmhouse one night and follows the moon into the hills. Rose Ryan (Kelly's then wife Kaarin Fairfax and mother of Memphis) comes to check on her daughter only to find that Emily is missing.

The Ryans get the local police, led by a sergeant (Chris Haywood), to search for her, but when their Aboriginal tracker, Albert Yang (Kelton Pell) arrives, the father says he does not want any blacks on his land. Jim Ryan and the white police go searching for Emily, destroying evidence Albert could have used to find the girl. The white men cannot find her, eventually Rose goes to Albert's hut and together they go looking for Emily, they find her dead in the hills and bring her body back home. Albert's wife (Ruby Hunter) sings the funeral song for the lost child, whilst their own child is missing – as part of the 'Stolen Generations' – taken by white authorities. Jim blames himself for not finding Emily and commits suicide.



A 1997 documentary, Black Tracker on Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) TV, concerned an indigenous tracker called Alexander Riley from Dubbo, New South Wales.[6][7] Singer-songwriter Mairead Hannan saw Black Tracker, she liked the story about a young boy who disappeared near Dubbo in 1932 and was tracked by Riley.[7] Hannan wanted to tell the story as a musical for a project sponsored by ABC TV's Arts and Entertainment department.[7] Mairead enlisted her sister and fellow composer Deirdre Hannan, then other composers/performers Paul Kelly, Kev Carmody and Alice Garner to help with the project.[1] Screenwriter John Romeril and director Rachel Perkins were approached and together wrote the screenplay.[1] Garner was due to take the part of Rose Ryan, the mother, but became pregnant so Kaarin Fairfax (Kelly's wife) undertook the role.[1] Aside from the search for a missing child, the film deals with the racist attitude depicted by the father's refusal to use the indigenous tracker.[2][7] The original story was about the tracker seeking a young boy who had gone missing, but Perkins decided a missing girl would have greater impact and also shifted the focus to the despairing mother.[7] Fairfax and Kelly volunteered their seven-year-old daughter, Memphis Kelly, for the part of the lost child.[1] Location filming occurred on Adnyamathanha land in the Flinders Ranges and other sites in South Australia for six weeks early in 2000.[1][2] Kelton Pell portrayed the indigenous tracker, Albert with Ruby Hunter playing his wife.[3] Musical score was by Kelly, Kev Carmody and Mairead Hannan, and with other artists they also contributed to the soundtrack.[3][4][7]


Awards and nominations received by One Night the Moon.[5]

Year Recipient/Nominated work Award Result
2002 Kim Batterham — Cinematography Australian Cinematographers Society
Award of Distinction
Telefeatures, TV Drama & Mini Series
2001 Kim Batterham — Cinematography Australian Film Institute (AFI) Awards
Best Achievement in Cinematography in a Non-Feature Film
Mairead Hannan, Kev Carmody, Paul Kelly — Score AFI Open Craft Award
Non-Feature Film Original Score
2001 John Romeril, Rachel Perkins — Scriptwriters Australian Writers' Guild (AWG)
AWGIE Awards
Television — Television Original
Romeril, Perkins — Scriptwriters AWG
Major Award
2001 Hannan, Carmody, Kelly — Score Film Critics Circle of Australia (FCCA)
Best Music Score
Perkins — Unique achievement in the combination of sound, image and music. FCCA
Special Achievement Award
2001 Perkins — Director Inside Film Awards
Best Direction
Karen Johnson — Editing IF Awards
Best Editing
2001 Perkins — Director New York International Independent Film and Video Festival (NYIIFVF)
Genre Award
Best Feature Film – Musical
Batterham — Cinematography NYIIFVF
Best Cinematography
2002 Paul Kelly, Mairead Hannan, Kev Carmody, John Romeril, Deirdre Hannan and Alice Garner – Soundtrack contribution Australasian Performing Right Association (APRA) Awards/Australian Guild of Screen Composers (AGSC) Awards
Screen Music Award
Best Soundtrack Album

One Night the Moon: Original Soundtrack[edit]

Songwriters according to Australasian Performing Right Association (APRA),[11] with performers listed after track times.[4]

  1. "I Don't Know Anything More" (Paul Kelly) – (2:08) Paul Kelly
  2. "Flinders Theme" (Mairead Hannan) – (2:11) Mairead Hannan
  3. "One Night the Moon" (P Kelly, John Romeril) – (2:34) Kaarin Fairfax, Memphis Kelly
  4. "Moon Child" (M Hannan, Deirdre Hannan) – (2:21) M Hannan, Deirdre Hannan
  5. "The Gathering" (M Hannan) – (0:59) M Hannan
  6. "Now Listen Here: Introduction to This Land is Mine" (M Hannan, D Hannan, Alice Garner) – (1:27) M Hannan, D Hannan, Alice Garner
  7. "This Land is Mine" (P Kelly, Kev Carmody) – (2:41) P Kelly featuring Kelton Pell
  8. "The March Goes On/The Gathering 2" (medley) (M Hannan, M Hannan) – (1:20) M Hannan
  9. "Spirit of the Ancients" (K Carmody) – (1:31) Kev Carmody
  10. "What Do You Know" (M Hannan, D Hannan, P Kelly, K Carmody) – (4:08) K Fairfax, K Pell
  11. "Carcass/The Gathering 3" (medley) (M Hannan, M Hannan) – (1:07) M Hannan
  12. "Night Shadows" (M Hannan, D Hannan, A Garner, K Carmody) – (1:44) K Carmody, A Garner
  13. "Black and White" (K Carmody) – (1:49) K Carmody
  14. "Moment of Death" (M Hannan) – (4:04) M Hannan
  15. "Hunger" (M Hannan, D Hannan) – (2:17) M Hannan, D Hannan
  16. "Unfinished Business" (P Kelly, K Carmody) – (1:56) K Pell, K Fairfax
  17. "Spirit of the Ancients" (reprise) – (2:18) K Carmody
  18. "Moody Broody" (D Hannan) – (0:46) D Hannan
  19. "Little Bones" (M Hannan, P Kelly) – (3:25) K Fairfax
  20. "Oh Breathe on Me" – (1:55) Ruby Hunter
  21. "Moonstruck" (Carmody) – (4:40) K Carmody


  • Kev Carmody — guitar, vocals, didjeridu
  • Kaarin Fairfax — vocals
  • Ruby Hunter — vocals
  • Paul Kelly — guitar, vocals
  • Yuri Worontschak — piano, engineer, mixing

Box Office[edit]

One Night the Moon grossed $276,270 at the box office in Australia,.[13]

Stage Adaptation[edit]

John Romeril subsequently adapted One Night the Moon as a music theatre work. The stage adaptation was first performed by Melbourne's Malthouse Theatre, opening 16 September 2009, directed by Wesley Enoch and with Mairead Hannan as musical director. The cast included Natalie O'Donnell, Kirk Page, Mark Seymour and Ursula Yovich.[14]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g Webb, Carolyn (17 December 2002). "A darker side of the Moon". The Age (Melbourne). Retrieved 2008-10-02. 
  2. ^ a b c d Probyn, Fiona; Catherine Simpson (February 2002). ""This Land is Mine/ This Land is Me": Reconciling Harmonies in One Night the Moon". senses of cinema. Archived from the original on 2008-08-02. Retrieved 2008-10-05. 
  3. ^ a b c d Deming, Mark. "One Night the Moon overview". allmovie. Retrieved 2008-10-02. 
  4. ^ a b c d "One Night the Moon: Original Soundtrack". BigPond. Retrieved 2008-10-02. 
  5. ^ a b "One Night the Moon (2001) – Awards". Internet Movie Database (IMDb). Retrieved 2008-10-02. 
  6. ^ a b c Gray, Geoffrey (2002). "Riley, Alexander (1884–1970)". Australian Dictionary of Biography – On-line edition. Retrieved 2008-10-02. 
  7. ^ a b c d e f g h i Cath Lavelle, ed. (November 2001). "One Night the Moon Media kit" (PDF). MusicArtsDance. Retrieved 2008-10-02. 
  8. ^ "Kaarin Fairfax". Internet Movie Database (IMDb). Retrieved 2008-10-03. 
  9. ^ "Starstruck (1982) – Full cast and crew". Internet Movie Database (IMDb). Retrieved 2008-10-03. 
  10. ^ "Starstruck 1982". Memorable TV. Retrieved 2008-10-03. 
  11. ^ "APRA search engine". Australasian Performing Rights Association (APRA). Retrieved 2008-10-02.  Note: requires user to input song title e.g. ONE NIGHT THE MOON
  12. ^ Holmgren, Magnus. "Paul Kelly". Australian Rock Database. (Magnus Holmgren). Archived from the original on 22 October 2013. Retrieved 21 March 2014. 
  13. ^ Film Victoria – Australian Films at the Australian Box Office
  14. ^ AusStage - One Night the Moon, Malthouse Theatre 2009, retrieved 25 May 2014

External links[edit]