Our understanding of isolation has certainly been challenged over the course of the last two years - some of us vowing to never go through it again. But when Australian filmmaker Warwick Thornton uprooted himself to a tin shack on the Dampier Peninsula in 2019, isolation was precisely the objective. At that point in time, the Kaytetye mans' life was soaked in excess and he needed a break. Thornton's documentary series The Beach trails this period, with only three chickens, a mud crab and his son Dylan for company. Now, indie film company A24 has picked up The Beach for its' international debut, premiering all six episodes over the course of one week.
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The Beach originally launched in Australia on SBS last year in May to great acclaim. For those among us familiar with Thornton's work (if you're not, get on top of it stat!), you will recognise the slow-moving scenes, irreverent dialogue and skin-on-skin closeness of his lens. Unlike Samson & Delilah or Sweet Country however, Thornton has subverted roles; playing instead the subject while his son Dylan tries his hand at the camera.
Between birds-eye scenes of Thornton doing donuts in his beaten up ute and cursing his chickens to stop quarrelling, the series is virtually a cooking show. Meditative shots of Thornton cracking eggs, searing fish and preparing mud crab come into frame with the gentle sizzle, crack and pop of the kitchen. There's no electricity on this slice of paradise in far north Western Australia - the land of the Baard people - and from what we can tell, Thornton gets by just fine.
In an interview with the ABC, Thornton described his need to get away from the fast-paced life of Sydney. "If you need to start looking after yourself, and you need to start getting stronger, land, for Aboriginal people, is obviously your first point of call," he said.
The Beach is as much about healing and country as it is about cooking. It's personal, unpretentious storytelling from one of Australia's most treasured filmmakers. Watch the trailer, below.
The Beach will be premiere internationally via A24's Screening Room from November 22 to 28. Tickets are $6 USD each. Alternatively, you can also view The Beach through SBS On Demand, who also stepped in to produce.