Beneath Clouds, a 2002 film by Ivan Sen

20 June 2022

Beneath Clouds, trailer, Ivan Sen’s 2002 feature debut, seen twenty-years later, takes viewers into an Australia that is at once familiar, yet quite different. Racism, indigenous displacement, violence to women, police brutality, S-set trains, Sydney Tower in the distant skyline, mentions of NRL football teams, and even one or two Holdens, it’s all there.

Sixteen year old Lena (Dannielle Hall), born to an Aboriginal mother and Irish father, sees no future in her small country hometown. Putting together what money she can rustle up, the savvy Lena sets off for Sydney in search of her father, who left the family years ago.

Along the way she meets Vaughn (Damian Pitt), a troubled teenager, who has escaped from a youth correctional facility, and is being pursued by the police. Neither is happy to make each other’s acquaintance at first, but gradually a reluctant cooperation begins to spawn a closer bond.

Beneath Clouds is a movie worth seeking out. It won a slew of awards, including Best Direction, and Best Cinematography, from the Australian Film Institute. The Berlin International Film Festival also recognised Sen’s title, where it won First Movie Award, while Hall scooped the New Talent Award.

Despite the accolades the film received, and the outstanding performances of the two leads, Hall and Pitt, disappointingly neither actor has found film work since. In a Sydney Morning Herald article written in April 2005, Hall said aside from being sent one script to look at, she had not been offered any further acting roles.

At the time she was working as a bookkeeper in the NSW town of Quirindi. Pitt, who was living in Coffs Harbour, said the same thing. Both actors showed talent and promise, and it is unfortunate they weren’t able to build upon their work in Beneath Clouds.


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