Limbo – Director Ivan Sen

Ivan Sen’s latest film zeroes in on a jaded police detective Travis (Simon Baker) as he arrives in the remote Australian Outback town of Limbo to investigate the cold case murder of a local Indigenous girl 20 years ago. As truths about the crime begin to unfold, Travis gains new insight into the unsolved case from the victim’s fractured family, the surviving witnesses, and the reclusive brother of the chief suspect. Shot in starkly beautiful black and white, Limbo is a penetrating modern noir and a poignant, intimate journey into the complexities of loss. Writer-director Ivan Sen, one of Australia’s foremost Indigenous filmmakers, deftly wields the police procedural to chart the impact of the justice system on Indigenous families in Australia. Director Ivan Sen (Beneath The Clouds, Yellow Fella) joins us to talk about the inspiration his black and white, slow burn noir story, bringing Simon Baker on to the project as his lead actor and executive producer, and the importance of making the judicial, political and social disparity between the Indigenous peoples and the non-Indigenous colonizers the centerpiece of this starkly spectacular film.


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About the filmmaker – Ivan Sen (Writer, Director, Producer, DOP, Editor, VFX, Composer) Throughout the late 1990s Ivan Sen worked on numerous short films, before making his feature film debut with Beneath Clouds in 2002. The film won Ivan global acclaim, screening in Competition at the 2002 Berlinale and winning a Silver Bear. Beneath Clouds also screened at the 2003 Sundance Film Festival and earned Ivan the 2002 Best Director Award at the Australian Film Institute Awards. Ivan has written and produced a number of award-winning documentaries. His documentary Yellow Fella screened in Un Certain Regard at the Cannes Film Festival in 2005.  In 2011 Ivan completed his feature Toomelah, which was selected for Un Certain Regard at the 2011 Cannes Film Festival. The world premiere of the film at Cannes received a standing ovation. The film won the Grand Prix at the Pacific Meridian Film Festival 2011 and the UNESCO Prize at the Asia Pacific Screen Awards 2011.  In 2012 Ivan was awarded the prestigious Byron Kennedy Award, for “his unique artistic vision and for showing, by his resourceful, multidisciplinary filmmaking, that telling stories on screen is in reach of all who have something consequential to say”. In 2013 Ivan wrote and directed the feature film Mystery Road starring Aaron Pedersen, Hugo Weaving, Ryan Kwanten, Tasma Walton and Jack Thompson. Mystery Road had its international premiere with a “Special Presentation” at the 2013 Toronto Film Festival and opened the 2013 Sydney Film Festival. Ivan is an Executive Producer on the successful TV drama series adaptation of Mystery Road.  In 2015 Ivan directed Goldstone starring Aaron Pedersen, Jacki Weaver, David Gulpilil, Cheng Pei Pei, Alex Russell and David Wenham. Goldstone premiered at the Toronto Film Festival and was the opening night film at the 2015 Sydney Film Festival.  In 2019 Ivan wrote and directed his sci fi Loveland starring Ryan Kwanten, Hugo Weaving and Jillian Nguyen. Loveland was released in the US by Lionsgate.  His latest feature, Limbo, starring Simon Baker and Rob Collins, will have its world premiere in Competition at the 2023 Berlin Film Festival. 


97% on RottenTomatoes

“It is a tough, muscular film with the grit of crime, but a heartbeat of compassion.” Peter Bradshaw, Guardian

“With its strikingly cinematic locations and Sen’s expressive use of the widescreen frame, Limbo also sneaks up on you, leaving a haunting impression.”David Rooney, Hollywood Reporter

“This is outback noir — oblique, secretive and as hard-boiled as the ground is hard-baked — and Sen wears it well.”Guy Lodge, Variety

“Limbo is perhaps his best film to date, a technically accomplished, richly evocative drama that explores, with the eye of an insider, the often tense relationships between Indigenous Australians and white Australians…” – David Stratton, The Australian

“An eerily meditative production with top-notch performances and a harshly beautiful monochrome veneer.” – Luke Buckmaster, Guardian

“It’s a distinctive work, both visually – the stark black and white photography accentuates the uncanny, almost lunar pockmarks on this scarred terrain – and in terms of its intriguingly detached outback noir storytelling.” – Wendy Ide, Screen International