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SBS's New Documentary 'The Beach' Is the Thoughtful and Scenic Isolation Viewing We Need Right Now

Directed by 'Sweet Country' filmmaker Warwick Thornton, it follows his beachside quest to step back from the hustle and bustle of daily life.
By Sarah Ward
May 02, 2020
By Sarah Ward
May 02, 2020

Career-wise, the past decade has been kind to Australian filmmaker Warwick Thornton. It all started back in 2009, when he won the Cannes Film Festival's Camera d'Or — the award for best first feature — for the fantastic Samson and Delilah. Since then, he has explored ghost stories in The Dark Side, and opened the Sydney Film Festival with We Don't Need a Map, a documentary exploring the prominence of the Southern Cross in Australian culture. In 2017, he also directed one of the best, most blistering Australian westerns ever made, Sweet Country. And, more recently, he co-helmed the second six-part season of TV series Mystery Road — which premiered at this year's Berlin Film Festival before hitting screens Down Under.

All that hustle and bustle has had an impact, however, as his next project explores. In The Beach, Thornton documents his own quest to step back from his busy life by living alone on an isolated stretch of sand by the shoreline — at Jilirr, on the Dampier Peninsula on the northwest coast of Western Australia.

Thornton directs the exquisite-looking documentary, with his son — Robbie Hood and Finke: There and Back filmmaker Dylan River — shooting the entire series. As well as helming, Thornton obviously stars in the six-part series, too. And it's understandably a highly personal affair; "The Beach is one of the most important projects of my life. It's about my life. It is my life," the acclaimed director explains.

Accordingly, when the documentary hits NITV, SBS and SBS On Demand on Friday, May 29 — airing on NITV and SBS simultaneously in one big block, and dropping on the broadcaster's streaming platform at the same time — it'll chronicle Thornton's efforts as he lives alone, endeavouring to follow in the footsteps of his ancestors, the Kaytetye people. Solely relying upon the land, he spends his days in scenic surroundings while hunting and gathering for food, with the docuseries observing unobtrusively as he attempts to transform his existence, connect to Country, and nourish both his body and spirit.

As the just-released trailer shows, it makes for quite the striking viewing. And, given the current state of the world, immensely timely viewing too.

Check out the trailer below:

All six episodes of The Beach will air on NITV and SBS on Friday, May 29, with the docuseries available to stream via SBS On Demand from the same time.

Published on May 02, 2020 by Sarah Ward
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