The film will make its initial theater debut in Los Angeles and New York and then roll out to 20 to 30 more screens across the U.S.
Sweet Country made its world premiere in 2017 at the Venice film festival where it won a Special Jury Prize. It continued its festival traction at the Toronto International Film Festival where it won the Platform prize. It also was named Best Film at the Adelaide Film Festival and the Asia Pacific Screen Awards.
The film draws on the conventions of the American Western to explore the genesis of contemporary Australian racism and the generational neglect of Aboriginal people. It’s 1929 on the vast, desert-like Eastern Arrernte Nation lands that are now known as the Central Australian outback. Sam Kelly (Hamilton Morris), a middle-aged Aboriginal man, works the land of a kind preacher, Fred Smith (Sam Neill). After an ill-tempered bully arrives in town and Kelly kills him in self-defense, he and his wife, Lizzie, go on the run as a posse gathers to hunt him down.
Thornton is known for his short films focusing on contemporary Indigenous Australian stories. His shorts Nana and Green Bush were played at the Berlin International Film Festival.