movies: Mys­tery Road’s Out­back ap­peal ....................

The Gold Coast Bulletin - Play Magazine - - PLAYCONTENTS -

AUS­TRALIAN film­maker Ivan Sen fun­nelled his own childhood strug­gle into his ac­claimed new film Mys­tery Road.

The di­rec­tor, who grew up in the NSW towns of Tam­worth and In­verell, says he’s long been in­ter­ested in the Abo­rig­i­nal tracker or na­tive trooper.

‘‘I think that comes from my own childhood grow­ing up in a town where I felt like I was be­tween two worlds, be­tween a black world and a white world,’’ he says.

‘‘I’ve al­ways been fas­ci­nated by the iden­tity cri­sis that th­ese guys must have had, work­ing for the Crown and turn­ing against their own peo­ple in essence.’’

He says in a way, a mod­ern day in­dige­nous cop would have a sim­i­larly tough time and from that Jay Swan was born – a de­tec­tive who re­turns to his coun­try town and finds him­self in­ves­ti­gat­ing the bru­tal mur­der of an Abo­rig­i­nal girl.

The story was also drawn from a per­sonal place for Sen. The un­solved mur­ders of young Abo­rig­i­nal women from his ex­tended fam­ily partly in­spired Mys­tery Road, but he says the film is just an ex­pres­sion of that.

‘‘We’ve all got th­ese sto­ries in our fam­i­lies, not just me,’’ he says.

‘‘I’m not (from) the only in­dige­nous fam­ily that have had women mur­dered and have had to put up with the af­ter­math of the po­lice in­ves­ti­ga­tion be­ing lack­lus­tre and lack­ing fo­cus and en­thu­si­asm.’’

He says ev­ery­thing in Mys­tery Road, from the po­lice cor­rup­tion to the treat­ment of women, fea­tures de­tails from real life. Filmed in Win­ton, Queens­land, Mys­tery Road boasts a cast in­clud­ing Hugo Weav­ing, Jack Thomp­son and Ryan Kwan­ten, but for the in­te­gral part of de­tec­tive Swan, Sen wrote the role with Aaron Ped­er­sen in mind. He says he’s al­ways wanted to give the in­dige­nous ac­tor some­thing ‘‘juicy’’ and dif­fer­ent.

As a re­sult, when read­ing the script for the first time, Ped­er­sen found on the pages a man he in­stinc­tively recog­nised.

‘‘It was like I was read­ing some­body I al­ready knew,’’ he says.

Ped­er­sen calls the multi-ta­lented Sen, who wrote, di­rected, scored, edited and was di­rec­tor of photography on Mys­tery Road, ‘‘a hell of a skip­per’’.

For Sen, not need­ing to work with peo­ple who would usu­ally fill some of the roles he takes on, means he can con­cen­trate on his most im­por­tant col­lab­o­ra­tion – with the ac­tors.

‘‘When you don’t have to col­lab­o­rate with other crew, you can save that en­ergy for the ac­tors and for me there’s some­thing spe­cial about that,’’ he says.

‘‘It’s a magic that hap­pens when it’s you hold­ing the cam­era and you’re there talk­ing to the ac­tor . . . And I don’t think I’d ever give that up again.’’

For Ped­er­sen, Mys­tery Road was an ex­pe­ri­ence ac­tors dream about.

‘‘(It’s) some­thing that will al­ways sit with me for the rest of my life. I don’t think I’ll ever have a job like that again.’’


Mys­tery Road opens at Cine­max Kingscliff to­day.

Mys­tery Road star Aaron Ped­er­son and (inset) with co-star Hugo Weav­ing in a scene from the film.

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