Director Phillip Noyce in person! 

Long before establishing himself as a master of the Hollywood action blockbuster (with Patriot Games, Clear and Present Danger and the recent Salt), Phillip Noyce studied filmmaking as part of the inaugural class of Australia’s National Film and Television School, where he made several acclaimed and award-winning short films. Upon graduating, he embarked on this remarkable debut feature starring Bill Hunter (Strictly Ballroom, Muriel’s Wedding) as a racist drifter who sets off on an impromptu joyride with a young Aboriginal man (famed activist Gary Foley) just released from a night’s prison stint. Traversing the New South Wales outback in a stolen Pontiac, this unlikely duo make their way towards the coast, collecting other wayward travelers (including a French tourist and the bored wife of a gas station owner) as they go, while the police close in and interpersonal tensions simmer to a boil. Strongly influenced by such iconic road movies as Easy Rider, Two-Lane Blacktop and Wim Wenders’ Kings of the Road, as well as the work of John Cassavetes, Backroads tears across the screen with feverish filmmaking energy and inspired performances, while turning a critical mirror on Australian society’s deeply entrenched racial divisions. Print courtesy of the National Film and Sound Archive of Australia.

Backroads is an outstanding road movie to stand beside the very best American examples of the genre. Often brilliantly funny, it manages to be both completely commercial and a scathing depiction of one of the world's most racist societies.” —Time Out Film Guide

Screening with
God Knows Why, But it Works
Phillip Noyce | 1976 | Australia | 16mm | 49m

After his student film Castor and Pollux won the prestigious Rouben Mamoulian Award at the 1974 Sydney Film Festival, Noyce was approached by Film Australia to direct a documentary about the Australian physician Archie Kalokerinos, known for his pioneering work in the reduction of the high death rate among Aboriginal children. Instead, Noyce delivered a highly stylized blend of traditional documentary and dramatic reenactment, complete with the real Kalokerinos commenting on the work of the actor playing him in the dramatic scenes. From the NFSA's Film Australia Collection.

Warning: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander viewers are advised when watching this program that it contains images of deceased persons.