By Pat Burns, Movie Reviewer and West Coast Editor for GRAND Magazine
Catriona McKenzie’s first feature film, “SATELLITE BOY,” is about an elderly grandfather, Jagamarra (David Gulpilil), and the life lessons he teaches his 10-year-old grandson, Pete (Cameron Wallaby). Pete, who was abandoned by his mother, lives with his sage grandfather in a deserted outdoor cinema of outback town Wyndham, Austria. Together, they travel the country and learn to live off the land, to survive, to make do.
In Catriona’s own words, “Family relationships hold you close, but the message of this film is that, in the end, it is the powerful pull we feel for country that matters most. It transcends archetypal ideas like Mother and Father – it’s closer to the idea of Heaven.”
The audience is shown sweeping vistas of the stunning Australian Outback as director Catriona shoots this film by car, truck, bike and foot. Shot in only three weeks, with a very small budget, this brave and tender film offers a story about the deeply imbedded bond between a grandfather and his grandson. Words aren’t always necessary. Their thoughts and spirits travel the miles between them and, ultimately, help to reunite them.
There are thousands of grandparents raising their grandchildren throughout the world and this film will strike a particular chord with them. With adjustments in the scenery, this film could be in in any town, in any country.
I had the opportunity to interview Catriona at the Palm Springs International Film Festival. She shared her deep feelings about the writing and shooting of the film, the wild and wooly Outback, sleeping under the stars and how the crew became a family.
As we discussed her film, she opened up about her private life as well. She revealed her story of being adopted as a child by older parents and the excitement of meeting her birth parents later in life. She revealed the strong love and connection that brought her back to her adoptive parents and, more precisely, her adoptive father. He was the man she felt complete love and connection to, regardless of genetics. This very personal experience carries into her film to give it a profound depth.
“SATELLITE BOY” is in English with some subtitles.
To hear the complete interview click here:Catriona McKenzie interview