Toomelah (film)

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Theatrical film poster
Directed byIvan Sen
Written byIvan Sen
Produced byDavid Jowsey
StarringDaniel Connors
Christopher Edwards
Michael Connors
CinematographyIvan Sen
Edited byIvan Sen
Music byIvan Sen
Distributed byVisit Films
Release date
  • 11 May 2011 (2011-05-11) (Cannes)
Running time
106 minutes

Toomelah is a 2011 Australian drama film written and directed by Ivan Sen and starring Daniel Connors, Christopher Edwards, and Michael Connors.[1] It was shown at the 2011 Cannes Film Festival on 11 May in the Un Certain Regard program, where it received a two-minute long standing ovation.[2][3] The film's story takes place in Toomelah Station, New South Wales.


Daniel is a ten-year-old boy living in Toomelah, NSW. After being suspended from school for threatening to stab a classmate with a pencil and finding there is little to do in his town, he decides he wants to be a part of the gang controlling the drug trade in his township, so he decides to help Linden, a well-known local drug dealer. Bruce, one of Linden's rivals, is released from prison and a turf war erupts. Meanwhile, Daniel faces problems at school and in his family, such as his mother's addictions, the estrangement of his alcoholic father and the return of his aunt who was forcibly removed from the mission as a child during the Stolen Generations.[3][4][5]


  • Daniel Connors as Daniel
  • Christopher Edwards as Linden
  • Michael Connors as Buster
  • Dorothy Cubby
  • Dean Daley-Jones as Bruce
  • Alex Haines as Scammer
  • Linden Binge as Jarome[3][4]
  • Aunty Sharon Binge
  • Aunty Margery Binge
  • Uncle Lloyd Hippi
  • Tyericq Jiko
  • Danieka Connors as Tanitia
  • Lauren McGrady
  • Kevin Binge


When asked why he made a film about Toomelah, director Ivan Sen said:

I’ve always wanted to make a film out there because some of my earliest memories come from there. I’ve never lived there, but I used to go there all the time… But my mother grew up there and all her family come from there so there’s always been a connection there. As a result, I’ve always wanted to go back there and do something, make this film, a drama. It took a long time work out a method in which to do it, but the story came from a very intense observation period where I went out there for a few weeks and just followed a few teenage boys around and followed the little boy around who played Daniel and wrote down everything I saw, even the dialogue I heard. All of that all came together in the screenplay.

— Ivan Sen, The Reel Bits.[5]

Before filming, Sen obtained permission to film in Toomelah from the town's elders. Sen shot most of the scenes himself, as many of the actors in the movie are his personal friends and he believed their acting would be restricted if an entire conventional crew did the filming.[3]


Ceremony Category Recipient Result
2011 Asia Pacific Screen Awards Best Performance by an Actor Daniel Connors Nominated[6]
UNESCO Screen Award Toomelah Won[7]
2011 Pacific Meridian Film Festival Grand Prix Won[7]


  1. ^ Smith, Ian Hayden (2012). International Film Guide 2012. p. 64. ISBN 978-1908215017.
  2. ^ Swift, Brendan (15 April 2011), "Toomelah and Sleeping Beauty selected for Cannes International Film Festival",, Inside Film, retrieved 12 May 2011
  3. ^ a b c d Byrnes, Paul (24 November 2011). "Intimate glimpse into rugged world". The Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 20 December 2014.
  4. ^ a b "Toomelah Press Kit" (PDF), Official film website, retrieved 12 May 2011
  5. ^ a b Gray, Richard (4 December 2011). "Interview: Ivan Sen on Toomelah and his Western project Mystery Road". The Reel Bits. Retrieved 20 December 2014.
  6. ^ Buchanan, Mark; Ellis, Scott (12 October 2011). "Daniel's time to shine". The Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 20 December 2014.
  7. ^ a b "Toomelah". Bunya Productions. Retrieved 20 December 2014.

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