The Tense Trailer for Powerful New Australian Outback Western 'High Ground' Is Here

It follows an ex-sniper and a young Indigenous tracker as they navigate the aftermath of a horrific act of violence in Arnhem Land.
Sarah Ward
November 15, 2020

A high-profile cast. An acclaimed local director. A thorough traipse through the country's colonial past. While that description applies to a growing number of Aussie films (Sweet Country and The Nightingale, just to name two recent examples), it'll never get old — as new frontier western High Ground demonstrates.

Indeed, while Stephen Maxwell Johnson's film feels like a natural addition to this growing genre, it also makes its own imprint. The setup: on what's supposed to be a routine expedition in Arnhem Land, almost the entirety of an Indigenous tribe is wiped out by northern Australian police. Their leader Travis (Simon Baker) isn't responsible for the carnage, but it weighs heavily on him in the aftermath.

In this gorgeously shot, deeply contemplative drama, Travis is still haunted by the incident 12 years later, in the 1930s, which is when the bulk of the feature takes place. The ex-World War I sniper is enlisted by his superior (Jack Thompson) and his former partner (Callan Mulvey) to track down one of the massacre's revenge-seeking survivors — all while accompanied by boy-turned-tracker Gutjuk (Jacob Junior Nayinggul), who also lived through the slaughter.

When High Ground premiered at this year's Berlinale, it deservedly wowed crowds. Since then, it opened the Brisbane International Film Festival and screened at the Adelaide Film Festival — and it has stints planned at Sydney Film Festival's My Cinema My Film Festival touring event in November and December, and during its summer weekend program in January. It'll hit Aussie cinemas in general release come January 28, and it has just revealed its tension-dripping full trailer.

As well as Baker, Thompson and Mulvey — and phenomenal first-timer Jacob Junior Nayinggul — High Ground also stars Aaron Pedersen, Ryan Corr and Caren Pistorius (Unhinged), plus debutants Esmerelda Marimowa and Witiyana Marika.

It's the second film from Johnson, who previously directed 2001's Yolngu Boy. The filmmaker grew up living in the Northern Territory, and also directed music videos for Yothu Yindi — including for 1991 track 'Treaty'.

Check out the High Ground trailer below:

High Ground opens in Australian cinemas on January 28, 2021.

Published on November 15, 2020 by Sarah Ward
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