Beneath Clouds (2002)

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The story of Lena, the light-skinned daughter of an Aboriginal mother and Irish father and Vaughn, a Murri boy doing time in a minimum security prison in North West NSW. Dramatic events ... See full summary »



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Cast overview, first billed only:
Dannielle Hall ...
Damian Pitt ...
Jenna Lee Connors ...
Terry Dahlstron ...
Man with headphones
Wayne Dargin ...
Boy at service station
Shane Dargin ...
Boy at service station
Marshall Bell ...
Boy at service station
Aaron Robinson ...
Boy at service station
Mundurra Weldon ...
Athol French ...
Jamalla Carr ...
Girl with pram
Samuel Barker ...
Baby in pram
Ben Paparo ...
Male police officer
Lila Fisher ...
Female police officer
Kevin Pitt ...
Lena's stepdad (Smiley)


The story of Lena, the light-skinned daughter of an Aboriginal mother and Irish father and Vaughn, a Murri boy doing time in a minimum security prison in North West NSW. Dramatic events throw them together on a journey with no money and no transport. To Lena, Vaughn represents the life she is running away from. To Vaughn, Lena embodies the society that has rejected him. And for a very short amount of time, they experience a rare true happiness together. Written by leask81 <>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Drama | Romance


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Release Date:

23 May 2002 (Australia)  »

Also Known As:

Felhők mögött  »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


Actor Damian Pitt had no previous acting experience and was spotted by director Ivan Sen in Moree in a group of 20 boys. Sen said he "had the perfect look". See more »


Streets of Tamworth
("Streets of Old Fitzroy")
Written by Harry Williams
Performed by Roger Knox
See more »

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User Reviews

screening with director's Q&A May 13 2002
13 May 2002 | by (Brisbane Australia) – See all my reviews

Ivan Sen was a guest of the Dendy art-house cinema group at the advance screening I attended. He spoke about the script writing process, casting and funding hurdles at length.

The previous 6 years of Ivan's career have been devoted to producing short films; all of which have thematically built towards the story in 'Beneath Clouds'.

Taking its title from the Pearl Jam song 'Black', the film shows two young people (Lena and Vaughn) who escape from restrictive situations to rendevous with a remote parent in a search for love and validation ... only it is not clear if that love will be returned.

Sen wrote the script from his own experiences growing up in Alice Springs with an Aboriginal mother and an absent European father (like Lena) and his full-blooded cousins constantly in and out of juvenile courts and detention centres (like Vaughn and Lena's brother). He said that at first writing a feature-length script was difficult given his past film efforts ran to a maximum of 30 minutes. However, the interim draft boasted 140 pages. During and between script-writing he listened to lots of music (not only Pearl Jam!) and wrote some musical phrases and themes that become the film sound-track in the hands of Alistair Spence. The final script was 90 pages, and, by neat coincidence, the running time of the film is exactly 90 minutes!

Vaughn was cast by approaching a young man on the streets of Moree. Damian Pitt was initially incredulous at being asked to play a lead role in a feature film, but was quick to come around. The approach of casting Lena, explained Sen, was more conventional. Although he tried to recruit a female lead in the same way as Damian was found, the process of driving by, pulling up slowly, rolling down the window and asking 'do you want to be in a movie?' was fraught with too many sleazy connotations to be taken seriously by the young women he approached! Through a friend, Sen viewed an audition tape featuring Danielle Hall, and though initially ambivalent, the director was awestruck after meeting her in her hometown of Wee Waa and immediately sensed her ability to identify with the character and project the lines of the script as if they were her own. Obviously, judges at the Berlin festival were equally moved. The remainder of the cast were largely amateur, recruited around Moree.

Funding for the film was conditional on it being a feature, to enable it to travel the worldwide festival circuit as a stand-alone picture. Chief funding bodies were the NSW Film Commission and the Pacific Film & TV Commission - the former association ensured all location filming was in NSW. Roads and scenery around Moree, Gunnedah, Blacktown and Sydney show a great dynamic range of terrain and geography. From the time of the green-light of funding to shooting took only 4 months; the shoot went for 6 weeks; and post-production/editing took 6 months; all at a cost of 2-and-a-half million Australian dollars (roughly one-and-a-quarter mill. US dollars). Not cheap by Oz standards but not expensive either in an international sense.

My impression of the film is of a modern classic, up there with Gallipolli, Picnic at Hanging Rock and The Chant of Jimmy Blacksmith. It was well-deserving of the attention of the Berlin jury, and Ivan the auteur and musician has a great future ahead of him. His next project will be a black comedy set in Mexico about people who visit a small town hoping to be abducted by aliens.

Mr Sen, best of luck, and please don't get all indulgent like Russell Crowe or Billy Bob Thornton by fronting a lame rock band! Keep it real.

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