Down Mystery Road...Ivan Sen

Down Mystery Road… Ivan Sen: Storyteller of a Generation

June 9, 2016
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By Sarah Stopforth

Ivan Sen is one of Australia’s most successful Indigenous filmmakers. A jack-of-all-trades, Sen directs, writes, does his own cinematography, composing, editing and casting for many of his projects. From Inverell, New South Wales, his mother is Indigenous and his father European. Sen studied at the Australian Film and Television School and made his feature film debut with the acclaimed Beneath Clouds (2002), which screened at the 2003 Sundance Film Festival, won the Premiere First Movie Award at the 2002 Berlin Film Festival and won Best Director for Sen at the 2002 Australian Film Institute Awards.

On April 2 it was announced that Ivan Sen’s new film Goldstone (2016), the unofficial sequel to thriller Mystery Road (2013), will be the opening film at the 63rd Sydney Film Festival on June 8, 2016. Sen revealed, “You get the sense you must offer something special to be invited back to open the Festival for a second time, and we hope that Goldstone does do that.”

Goldstone is Sen’s fifth Feature Film, among numerous documentaries and short films, after successful features Beneath Clouds, Dreamland (2010), Tommelah (2011), and Mystery Road (2013). Goldstone stars Aaron Pederson (retuning as Detective Jay Swan from Mystery Road), and Oscar-nominated Jacki Weaver (Animal Kingdom, Silver Linings Playbook). The film received funding support of $530,000 from Screen Queensland and a whopping $1.17 million from the Screen Australia Indigenous Unit.

Australia has a band of successful Indigenous filmmakers among Sen, from Warwick Thornton (Samson & Delilah), Rachel Perkins (Bran Nue Dae, Radience), and Wayne Blair (The Sapphires).

Indigenous stories not only should be told, but need to be told− especially through the medium of film. Movies are the single best medium to express the many cultural issues that Sen confronts, from the treatment of Aboriginal people by the Australian Police and the continued segregation (both conscious and unconscious) between white Australians and Indigenous Australians. Under film’s guise, a filmmaker can influence people that have never experienced what they are watching, and a truly gifted filmmaker will help an audience to empathise with and understand these experiences. After watching Mystery Road, I am convinced that Ivan Sen is that filmmaker. Not only can he tell a story that is visually compelling, but also crafted a beautiful screenplay that is so effortlessly executed and communicates its core message with clarity and style.

So when Goldstone comes out in a few months, I urge you not to see a ‘mainstream’ film, but instead head to your local Luna Cinema, and see Sen’s latest feature. I can pretty much guarantee that you will feel and understand more about yourself, others different to you, and the Australia onscreen before you.

Ivan Sen’s GOLDSTONE premiers at Luna Palace Cinemas on June 30.
Go to for more info.

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