Screened as part of NZIFF 2017

Samson & Delilah 2008

Directed by Warwick Thornton

Mesmerising, and politically red hot, Warwick Thornton’s feature about a pair of outcast outback Aboriginal kids won the Camera d’Or for Best First Film at the Cannes Film Festival and is an unexpected hit in Australia.

Australia In English and Warlpiri with English subtitles
101 minutes 35mm

Director, Screenplay, Photography, Music


Kath Shelper


Roland Gallois

Production designer

Daran Fulham

Costume designer

Heather Wallace


Liam Egan
David Tranter


Marissa Gibson (Delilah)
Rowan McNamara (Samson)
Scott Thornton (Gonzo)
Mitjili Gibson (Kitty)


Adelaide, Cannes (Un Certain Regard) 2009


Camera d'Or (Best First Film), Cannes Film Festival 2009


Warwick Thornton's potent, tacitly contentious feature about a pair of outcast Aboriginal kids who flee from their tiny central Australian community won the Camera d'Or for Best First Film at the Festival de Cannes in May. It's a major accolade, but the chances are that it pales as a reward for Thornton and his collaborators beside their film's success in the multiplexes of Australia. Samson & Delilah has entered the national conversation across the Tasman the way Once Were Warriors once did here.

It's not the taut poetry of Thornton's sublimely visual narrative style that people are talking about: it's violence and addiction in Aboriginal communities, and how they limit the options of young Samson and Delilah, two tender, uncertain kids whose spirits are sustained by little more than their teasing, unadmitted love for each other. (The lively mix of candour and shyness and mutual incredulity in the two first-time actors is so fresh you forget they are acting at all.) The frankness with which Thornton depicts their descent into pariahdom in Alice Springs has a staunch matter-of-fact humanity about it, a determination to stand by one's own, that is both excruciating and stirring to behold. And though you may spend long passages of this film dreading what's coming next, Thornton always nurtures the hopefulness that allow us and his young protagonists a chance at redemption. Unmissable. — BG

Samson & Delilah looks and sounds (its sound design, both playful and dissonant, is terrific) like no Australian film I've seen. Timeless and also utterly contemporary, it will leave hearts bruised, but aching with joy.” — Sukhdev Sandhu, Daily Telegraph