(Ivan Sen, 2011)
Toomelah is an old Aboriginal mission in north-western NSW. The film is set in a community in limbo – steeped in centuries old traditions but now undergoing social change from external influences. The youth are hooked into Playstation and sport Afro-American gangster names. Ivan Sen’s third feature is about ten year old Daniel whose mother is an drug addict, his alcoholic father lives in the gutter, his aunt has just returned to the mission 40 years after being stolen. Daniel’s only experience of stability and intimacy is his grandmother. Not surprisingly Daniel is hungry, poorly disciplined, plays up at school and settles most situations with violence that is celebrated by the adults. This scrawny ten year old becomes a casual drug courier and trainee gangster for the local dealer, Linden, who unlike the other adults, imparts his traditional knowledge and paternal attention. It is easy to see why Daniel is drawn to him. Being a drug courier in this community is a good job that involves fishing and hanging out. When another dope dealer, Daniel’s mother’s ex-boyfriend, fresh out of jail starts undercutting Linden and taking over his customers an inevitable battle ensues. Daniel is caught up right in the middle of it and needs to work out who he is and his relationship with his ten year old ‘woman’.
I am interested in presenting this film because Ivan Sen has had an ongoing commitment to the representation of children and there is a stunning story in the way that the film was made. I am interested in the formation of kid gangsters and the values structure of deviant behavior in Indigenous communities.
Dr Gregory Dolgopolov is presenting this film.
This film is being discussed by Dr Michelle Langford.
To see the trailer, click here.
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