Interview with Warwick Thornton, writer/director of Samson & Delilah

Aboriginal Art Directory | 16.05.09

Interview with Warwick Thornton, writer/director of Samson & Delilah:

Few first-time feature filmmakers are greeted with the kind of accolades bestowed upon Australian director Warwick Thornton, whose triumphant Cannes-selected indigenous drama Samson & Delilah has prompted a gushing response from critics the country over. The film tells an at times heart wrenching story following the two titular characters, who live in an impoverished rural community outside Alice Springs. Painfully realistic performances and beautiful cinematography are among the film’s virtues; to read the full review click here. During a busy week Thornton took time out to sit down and have a yak with Cinetology, shortly before flying off to present the film at Cannes.

I opened the newspaper this morning and saw yet another five star review for Samson & Delilah. There’s 101 minutes in your film, reckon you could chalk up 101 five star reviews?

(Laughing) We wish! We’ll run out of reviewers in Australia before then.

Buzz has circulated around the film’s release for months. It’s been selected for Cannes and lavished with all sorts of accolades. Are you surprised at all the hoo-ha Samson & Delilah is generating?

Absolutely. I set out just to make a really important film to my mob – a teenage love story and something really close to my heart. When you’re making your first feature, you kind of shoot down those grandiose ideas that something like this could go this far. You just try and keep really positive and really strong about the truth behind what you’re doing and the reason you’re making the film. That’s the most important thing. It’s a little film with a big name. I made it for my mob but I made sure that it can work with a wider audience as well, and it’s just been incredible that it’s been completely embraced by a much wider audience. It’s interesting because as soon as you knock down that black wall between Aboriginals and white Australia, a film like this does become an Australian film and an Australian story. Not an Aboriginal story but a story about Australians, in a sense. It’s just as much a white story as it is a black one when you get to that position.

And what's next for Warwick Thornton?

When the hype and the buzz eventually dies down, you’ll need to plan where to go from here. Do you have any idea about where you’ll head professionally in the future?

I’m booked for the next two years. The next thing I’m doing is a three one-hour series for the ABC called Art and Soul, about contemporary indigenous art which is going to be fantastic…it’ll have the whole gamut of contemporary Aboriginal art and how incredible and amazing it is. That’s going to take at least a year to make.


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