One Night the Moon

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One Night the Moon
Paul Kelly, Memphis Kelly, Kaarin Fairfax
Singing lullaby "One Night the Moon"
Directed byRachel Perkins
Written byJohn Romeril
Rachel Perkins
Produced byKevin Lucas
Paul Humfress
Aanya Whitehead
StarringPaul Kelly
CinematographyKim Batterham
Edited byKaren Johnson
Music byPaul Kelly
Kev Carmody
Mairead Hannan
Distributed byDendy Films
Release date
  • 8 November 2001 (2001-11-08)
Running time
57 minutes

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, along with their daughter Memphis Kelly. The film was directed by Rachel Perkins and co-written by Perkins with John Romeril. In 2009 Romeril adapted the script as a musical theatre work.

Kelton Pell portrayed an Aboriginal tracker, Albert Yang, with Ruby Hunter playing his wife, who searches for the missing child. Musical score was by Kelly, Kev Carmody and Mairead Hannan, and with other artists they also contributed to the soundtrack. The film won ten awards, including two Australian Film Institute (AFI) Awards.


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, but they 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. Jim blames himself for not finding Emily and commits suicide. Albert's wife (Ruby Hunter) sings the funeral song for the lost child.



One Night the Moon was inspired by the story of Aboriginal tracker, Alexander Riley as depicted in Black Tracker (1997), a documentary directed by Riley's grandson, Michael Riley.[1][2] Alexander Riley had worked for the New South Wales police in Dubbo in the early 1900s, finding wanted criminals, missing persons and hidden caches.[1] Composer/singer Mairead Hannan saw the documentary and formed a project with her sister Deirdre Hannan, Kelly, Carmody, Alice Garner, Romeril and Perkins.[2] 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.[3][2]

Hannan wanted to tell the story as a musical for a project sponsored by ABC TV's Arts and Entertainment department.[2] Mairead enlisted her sister and fellow composer Deirdre Hannan, then other composers/performers Kelly, [[Kev Carmody and Garner to help with the project. Screenwriter John Romeril and director Rachel Perkins were approached and together wrote the screenplay.[4] Garner was due to take the part of Rose Ryan, the mother, but became pregnant so Kaarin Fairfax (Kelly's wife) undertook the role.[4] 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.[3][2] 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.[2] Fairfax and Kelly volunteered their seven-year-old daughter, Memphis Kelly, for the part of the lost child.[4]

Location filming occurred on Adnyamathanha land in the Flinders Ranges and other sites in South Australia for six weeks early in 2000.[4][3] Kelton Pell portrayed the Indigenous tracker, Albert with Ruby Hunter playing his wife.[5] Musical score was by Kelly, Kev Carmody and Mairead Hannan, and with other artists they also contributed to the soundtrack.[5][6][2]


Awards and nominations received by One Night the Moon include:[7]

Year Nominee / 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]

Track listing[6]
Songwriters according to Australasian Performing Right Association (APRA),[8] with performers listed after track times.[6]

  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.[10]

Stage adaptation[edit]

Romeril subsequently adapted One Night the Moon as a musical 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.[11]


  1. ^ a b Gray, Geoffrey (2002). "Alexander (Alec) Riley (1884–1970)". Riley, Alexander (1884–1970). Australian Dictionary of Biography – On-line edition. Retrieved 2 October 2008.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g Cath Lavelle, ed. (November 2001). "One Night the Moon Media kit" (PDF). MusicArtsDance. Archived from the original (PDF) on 14 July 2011. Retrieved 2 October 2008.
  3. ^ a b c 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 2 August 2008. Retrieved 5 October 2008.
  4. ^ a b c d Webb, Carolyn (17 December 2002). "A darker side of the Moon". The Age. Melbourne. Retrieved 2 October 2008.
  5. ^ a b Deming, Mark. "One Night the Moon overview". allmovie. Retrieved 20 March 2022.
  6. ^ a b c "One Night the Moon: Original Soundtrack". BigPond. Retrieved 2 October 2008.
  7. ^ "One Night the Moon (2001) – Awards". Internet Movie Database (IMDb). Retrieved 2 October 2008.
  8. ^ "APRA search engine". Australasian Performing Right Association (APRA). Retrieved 2 October 2008. Note: requires user to input song title e.g. ONE NIGHT THE MOON
  9. ^ Holmgren, Magnus. "Paul Kelly". Australian Rock Database. (Magnus Holmgren). Archived from the original on 22 October 2013. Retrieved 21 March 2014.
  10. ^ "Film Victoria – Australian Films at the Australian Box Office" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 18 February 2011. Retrieved 22 November 2010.
  11. ^ AusStage - One Night the Moon, Malthouse Theatre 2009, Retrieved 25 May 2014

External links[edit]