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Films: Bravo “Samson and Delilah”

  • May 28th, 2009
  • Posted by 7thmin

samson-d-mattriviera.jpgA story of two young aboriginal people in trouble and falling in love  — Samson and Delilah — won this year’s Camera d’Or award at Cannes (24.5.09).

The award is for a best first feature film, and during the weekend just before it was announced, Samson and Delilah was already filling the rooms at Australian cinema complexes, where it has its first release.

s-delilah-sbs.jpgThe girl in the story looks after her old Nanna; the boy is a petrol sniffer; they speak in Warlpiri language; Samson has great difficulty with English; they have a really hard time.

samson-aftrs.jpgAs in the Bible story, there is hair-cutting; in this case a gesture of mourning.

samson-del.jpgWill this Samson recover his strength as his hair grows back? (How will he come to terms with the philistines?).

The unrelenting sadness and danger of the situation has opened new opportunities for some Australia bashing abroad, over the plight of aborigines; though that was plainly not the intention of first-time director, Warwick Thornton, from Alice Springs.

Speaking from Cannes after receiving the award, he told Australian radio:

“It’s a teenage love story set in my own community … It’s because of the love they survive.”

Mr Thornton also said he’d been coaxed to go to the awards ceremony and received a total shock to hear the film had won.

He’d enjoyed the atmosphere at Cannes, but after more than a week he’d had enough and was looking forward to being back in Central Australia.


The film is lengthy; some in the audience thought there was too much; but professional reviewers have been keen.

Here’s Variety magazine in the United States:

aboriginal-flag.jpg“A meticulous portrayal of the chaotic existence endured by two Aboriginal teens on an Outback reserve, ‘Samson & Delilah’ is an engrossing and touching snapshot of an Australia too often left on the cutting-room floor. Whether or not it succeeds in nabbing a rumored Cannes slot, this well-mounted, low-budget romantic drama is destined to become a pillar of the fest circuit, while cultural curiosity, combined with first-timer Warwick Thornton’s sure-handed helming, should also see this effort triumph with arthouse distribs. After winning the audience award at the recent Adelaide Fest, the pic goes out Down Under in late April/early May.”


Samson and Delilah; Footprint Films; Producer by Kath Shelper; Director and Writer Warwick Thornton.  Cast Marissa Gibson, Rowan McNamara, Scott Thornton, Mitjili Gibson.


Poster and stills, Samson and Delilah, 2009.

Another Time – “Samson and Delilah” in Hollywood.

Land Rights / Aboriginal flag – Australia.


Russell Edwards, “New International Release: Samson and Delilah, Australia”, Variety, Los Angeles / NY, 27.5.09., (27.5.09).