Sweet Country

Director: Warwick Thornton
Screenwriters: Steven McGregor, David Tranter

Institute History

  • 2018 Sundance Film Festival


After his short film Green Bush premiered at the 2005 Sundance Film Festival, acclaimed Indigenous Australian filmmaker Warwick Thornton finally makes a triumphant return to the Festival with Sweet Country—fresh off of winning the Toronto International Film Festival’s coveted Platform Prize.

It’s 1929 on the vast, desert-like Eastern Arrernte Nation lands that are now known as the Central Australian outback. Sam Kelly (Hamilton Morris), a middle-aged Aboriginal man, works the land of a kind preacher, Fred Smith (Sam Neill). After an ill-tempered bully arrives in town and Kelly kills him in self-defense, he and his wife, Lizzie, go on the run as a posse gathers to hunt him down.

With a sensitively written screenplay by Aboriginal writers Steven McGregor and David Tranter, Thornton expands on the themes of his extraordinary feature debut, Samson & Delilah, and draws on the conventions of the American Western to explore the genesis of contemporary Australian racism and the generational neglect of Aboriginal people. Serving as both cinematographer and director, Thornton creates an indelible visual language that penetrates the complex relationship between indigenous culture and white-power-obsessed colonialism.

— B.R./C.L.

Screening Details

As you use our Online Archives, please understand that the information presented from Festivals, Labs, and other activities is taken directly from official publications from each year. While this information is limited and doesn't necessarily represent the full list of participants (e.g. actors and crew), it is the list given to us by the main film/play/project contact at the time, based on the space restrictions of our publications. Each entry in the Online Archives is meant as a historical record of a particular film, play, or project at the time of its involvement with Sundance Institute. For this reason, we can only amend an entry if a name is misspelled, or if the entry does not correctly reflect the original publication. If you have questions or comments, please email [email protected]