Beneath Clouds

Director: Ivan Sen

Institute History

  • 2003 Sundance Film Festival


As in all lives, there are moments in modern indigenous life when some people choose to escape and either run away from or return to somewhere. In Beneath Clouds, Australian Aborigine filmmaker Ivan Sen constructs a deliberately paced portrait of two Aborigine teens escaping different realities who meet up hitchhiking on a long road journey to Sydney.

Without endorsing escapism or blaming oppression, Sen explores the lives of the two youths, Lena and Vaughn (pensively played by Danielle Hall and Damian Pitt), and their different paths that converge for an instant. Propelled by the power of its visual imagery, the film portrays the complexity of these two characters enhanced by Sen's deeply contemplative shots of the land now known as Australia.

At one moment in the film, Vaughn passes on historical knowledge to Lena and inspires a personal connection to the land for her, and there is doubt she won't flee Australia as she intends. However, when asked by an elder woman "Who are your people, girl?" Lena's reply speaks volumes.

Whether running to or away from home, Beneath Clouds strikes a chord in indigenous and nonindigenous minds and hearts by subtly revealing something all of us should remember: we each have the power of choice.

— N. Bird Runningwater

Screening Details


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