RABBIT-PROOF FENCE (12)
D: Phillip Noyce
Buena Vista/AFFC/Hanway (Phillip Noyce, Christine Olsen & John Winter)
W: Christine Olsen [based on the book "Follow The Rabbit-Proof Fence" by Doris Pilkington Garimara]
DP: Christopher Doyle
Ed: John Scott & Veronika Jenet
Mus: Peter Gabriel
PD: Roger Ford
Everlyn Sampi (Molly Craig), Tianna Sansbury (Daisy Craig Kadibill), Laura Monaghan (Gracie Fields), David Gulpilil (Moodoo), Kenneth Branagh (A.O. Neville)
Rabbit Proof Fence is the fact-based account of three aboriginal girls who escape the custody of white authorities after being kidnapped during a time of ethnic cleansing in 1930's Australia, where indigenous children were uprooted to a school which groomed them for a life of servitude to white owners.
Following their escape, the girls face a gruelling 1,500-mile journey across dangerous terrain and arid desert with only a rabbit-proof fence guiding their journey back to their family home.
This bleak and harrowing account is certain to pull on the heart strings and touch on the nerves. The performances of the three juvenile actresses are splendid, but it's arguably Kenneth Branagh's heartless bastard performance as the embodiment of barbaric politics which is more likely to be remembered.
Though the production was small compared to American pictures, Phillip Noyce directs with a breathtaking amount of scale, making the vast Australian desert even bigger and the girls' journey even the more perilous.
A special mention should also be noted for Peter Gabriel's beautifully evocative music score.