Sweet Country by Steven McGregor and David Tranter

Sweet country

Sweet Country by Steven McGregor and David Tranter (Bunya Productions)

Judges' Comments 

Set in a remote settlement in the Northern Territory in 1929, Sweet Country is an original feature film telling the story of Aboriginal stockman Sam Kelly on the run with his pregnant wife after killing a white station owner in self-defence. A posse led by Sergeant Fletcher pursues the couple through a perilous landscape and into the unexplored terrain of his own values. Along the way, Fletcher is forced to rely on the literal and figurative strengths of his Aboriginal tracker Archie.

Utilising and overturning the tropes of the classic Western, Sweet Country unfolds in three distinct acts, sweeping from stockmen’s camps to craggy outcrops to courtrooms, equally compelling in each of its settings. Its characters are tethered by a crime, but not the one that will ultimately be tried. Smart, spare and surprising, Sweet Country skilfully appropriates an imported genre to make a unique and timely Australian statement.

Image credit: Michael Corridore