The Fringe Dwellers PG

A young Aboriginal woman and man looking at something off camera, with serious-looking expressions.
20 May
Arc Cinema
$12 / $10 or 5 film season pass $50 / $40
Dir: Bruce Beresford, PG, Australia, 1986, 98mins, DCP,

The first Australian film to star First Nations actors in all the major roles, The Fringe Dwellers is about Trilby (Kristina Nehm), a young Aboriginal woman living on the fringes of white society. She is a quiet child, proud and stubborn, determined to make something of her life.

Trilby shares her home with parents and brothers and sisters and uncles and aunts and cousins in a riotous, disorganised but loving extended family. When Trilby’s mother (Justine Saunders) suggests that the family pack up and move to the suburbs, Trilby is forced to deal with the culture clash of living among mostly wealthy white families.

With xenophobic neighbours casting a constant judgemental eye, Trilby and her boyfriend Phil (Ernie Dingo) attempt to find happiness in their new environment.

This gentle and powerful movie by director Bruce Beresford (Driving Miss Daisy, Ladies in Black) is based on the 1961 novel by Nene Gare, now updated to the 1980s. It tells the story of people living on the outside of society but on their own terms, drawing strength from those who love them.

‘One of the few Australian films selected for competition at Cannes [in the 1980s], Bruce Beresford's adaptation is a milestone for Australian cinema’ – Urban Cinefile 

‘A wonderful film. Beautiful told, deeply moving. I couldn’t recommend it more highly’ – Joel Siegel, Good Morning America

This film is held in the NFSA collection.


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Presented in collaboration with Umbrella Entertainment.

This film is part of the NFSA's Australian New Wave program. See the full program listing here.



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