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“Samson and Delilah” Director Warwick Thornton: “A Camera is a Weapon”

"Samson and Delilah" Director Warwick Thornton: "A Camera is a Weapon"

The winner of the 2009 Cannes Camera D’Or, Warwick Thornton’s “Samson and Delilah,” starts screening in New York City today. The film went on to win the awards for Best New Director and Best Film at the Australian Film Institute Awards. Fifteen year-old Samson lives with Delilah in an Aboriginal community in the Outback. After tragedy strikes the tight-knit stable community, Samson and Delilah fall in love and take solace in each other.

indieWIRE asked “Samson and Delilah” a few questions in anticipation of his film’s U.S. release…


I am from the Kaytej tribe in Central Australia. My family was on our land when the sun rose for the first time. My mother was born under a tree next to a dry creek bed. My mother started the first Aboriginal media organization in Australia in the early 80s (CAAMA – Central Australia Aboriginal Media Association). Thank God for nepotism.

On coming to filmmaking…

At the age of fifteen I was taught by my mother that a camera is a weapon. It can fight the injustices in the world, it can start a revolution and it can stop a revolution. When I finally had the opportunity to make a feature length film, these words came flooding back. I had to look for the good fight. The reason for being. (Where’s my beret, I’ve lost my beret, can someone put me on a t-shirt?)

The aesthetic of the film…

Small, nurturing, truthful. We kept it small to not put too much pressure on ourselves or the young, first time actors. We worked with the crew we had been working with for years – our filmmaking family. We had a communal approach without too much hierarchy. We tried not to work too hard and have fun.

The challenges of filmmaking…

Anger is an energy. It’s a challenge to be able to tap that for good, to be able to harness something for a bigger cause without the end product feeling worthy or the audience feeling dictated to.

What will viewers get from “Samson and Delilah”?

That’s a question for the audience. I make films that I want to watch and hope like hell that someone else wants to watch them too.

On influences…

Probably the closest would be Terrence Malick’s Badlands in terms of the feeling and mood. I was inspired by the colour scheme of my cowboy boots – earthy tones – greens, browns.

And an upcoming project…

My agent tells me genre, genre, genre. So I’m developing a film called “Carlos in Space,” a film about a revolutionary who sells out so he can go to the moon.

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