A Long-Awaited Passion Project
Warwick Thornton, the acclaimed director, has been developing his seventh narrative feature, ‘The New Boy’, since the dawn of his filmmaking career. The story, depicting a lone Indigenous boy in a Christian monastery in 1940s Australia, was first drafted by Thornton over 18 years ago, before his triumph at the 2009 Cannes’ Camera d’Or prize for his feature debut, ‘Samson & Delilah’.
Drawing from Personal Experiences
Thornton’s attachment to ‘The New Boy’ is deeply rooted in his personal history. As a young boy, he was sent to a remote boarding school run by Spanish monks, a decision made by his mother to tackle his misbehavior in their hometown of Alice Springs, Australia. His first encounter with the stark imagery of religious symbolism deeply affected him, an emotion that permeates the script of ‘The New Boy’.
A Journey to the Big Screen
The road to production for ‘The New Boy’ has been lengthy, with Thornton and his long-term producer, Kath Shelper, constantly revisiting and refining the script over the years. This persistence was rewarded with development funding from Screen Australia’s First Nations Department (formerly the Australian Film Commission) in 2005.
The Final Script
In the completed film, Cate Blanchett stars as Sister Eileen, a rebellious nun overseeing a remote mission for Aboriginal children. The plot thickens when a new charge, portrayed by Aswan Reid, arrives at the mission. This boy, who appears to possess special powers, becomes enthralled and conflicted upon encountering a significant religious relic – a large carving of Christ on the cross. This clash between his Indigenous spiritual beliefs and the mission’s Christianity forms the crux of the film.
A Tale of Cultural Displacement and Spiritual Struggle
‘The New Boy’, as directed by Thornton, is expected to deliver a poignant narrative exploring the themes of cultural displacement and spiritual struggle. These themes resonate deeply with Indigenous communities that have grappled with the lasting impacts of colonization.
As fans eagerly await the release of ‘The New Boy’, it promises to be an intense and thought-provoking cinematic experience, amplified by the combined creative genius of Blanchett and Thornton.