Stars: Everlyn Sampi, Tianna Sansbury, Laura Monaghan, David Gulpilil, Kenneth Branagh, Myarn Lawford
Director: Phillip Noyce
Screenwriter: Christine Olsen
African slavery was America’s embarrassment. Now Australia has one of its dirty little government secrets revealed in the stark and elegantly told Rabbit-Proof Fence.
It’s based on a true story and set in Western Australia in 1931 at a small depot called Jigalong in the Gibson Desert. Running through the depot and across the desert is a rabbit-proof fence that literally bisects Australia from north to south. It’s purpose was to keep rabbits on one side and pasture on the other.
Residing in Jigalong are three young Aboriginal girls: Molly (Everlyn Sampi), her sister Daisy (Tianna Sansbury), and their cousin Gracie (Laura Monaghan) whose white fence worker fathers have long gone.
At the time and up until the 1970s, Australia had a law that allowed the government to remove Aboriginal children from their families and reestablish them in facilities were they were trained for domestic service and jobs as laborers. But it really was designed to keep the race under control through the prevention of mixed marriages.
In Perth, A.O. Neville (Kenneth Branagh), the area’s Chief “Protector” of Aborigines, hears that three young girls are running wild in Jigalong. He believes that the answer to the Aboriginal “problem” is to simply breed out the race by ruling that children of mixed marriages cannot marry full-blooded Aborigines. Thus, he orders the removal of Molly, Daisy and Gracie and has them relocated 1,200 miles away. But, under the rank conditions of the facility, it doesn’t take long for Molly, the eldest, to convince the other two that they must run away with her. This is the story of their resourceful three month journey home through the harsh Australian outback using the rabbit-proof fence as their guide, and with an expert Aboriginal tracker named Moodoo (David Gulpilil) on their trail every step of the way.
Lotta says: Stark as the countryside, this tale is simply and beautifully told with lovely performances from all three girls. More startling is the fact that after the girls made it home the first time, they were removed again and were forced to repeat their long journey home at least two more times.
Production Company: Rumbalara Films, Olsen Levy Productions, Hanway Films, Showtime Australia, Australian Film Commission, Jabal Films, Australian Film Finance Corporation