Like the scanning of its celestial-viewing namesake, Catriona McKenzie’s directorial debut Satellite Boy is a touch slow. But luckily for us, what it explores is just as beautiful.
The film follows the charming story of young aboriginal lad Pete (Cameron Wallaby) who journeys from the vast outback of The Kimberleys to the city with best mate Kalmain (Joseph Pedley). Satellite Boy takes viewers from rural Western Australia, through the beehive-shaped Bungle Bungle Ranges to the flames of a traditional aboriginal fire dance.
As much a film about Australia’s majestic landscape as a deeply personal investigation into the hardships and sense of community within aboriginal society (most aptly explored through Pete’s respected grandfather Old Jagamarra played by David Gulpilil), Satellite Boy shows us how a young boy with big dreams can save his abandoned cinema home from the “mining mob” and ultimately, in a more general sense, himself.
You’ve got to hand it to McKenzie; she knows how to lead you on a well-shot journey through some of Australia’s most iconic destinations. And after lending her talents to the critically acclaimed TV series, Redfern Now, it’s unsurprising to find her portrayal of aboriginal life to be handled with nothing but modest brilliance. Unfortunately however, like many a coming of age film, there’s a whole lot of dialogue and not much action.
Overall a warming and inspirational little movie about beating the odds, Satellite Boy is a great one for the family. Kids will learn from it and if you’re anything like me, you’ll come away with the courage to go after what you really want.
BY JACK ARTHUR SMITH
Satellite Boy is in cinemas now.