The film is set entirely in the remote Indigenous community of Toomelah, located on the NSW, QLD border. It was created as a mission during the 1930s, bringing together Gamilaroi and Bigambal people from the surrounding area.

The story centres on Daniel, a small ten year old boy who dreams of being a gangster. He is kicked out of school and befriends a local gang leader, until a rival gangster arrives back from jail to reclaim his turf. A showdown ensues and Daniel is caught in the middle, leaving him with a choice to make about his uncertain future.

Toomelah is a deeply personal story, that intimately depicts mission life in contemporary Australia. The film reveals the challenges facing the young Gamilaroi people of the Toomelah Community. Robbed of much of their traditional culture by Government policy, it is a community on a cultural edge, struggling for an identity. It is a provocative and yet comic story that transports audiences inside the community, creating an authentic world and way of life that is “Toomelah”.







At 4 years old Daniel Connors was technically dead after being underwater for 20 minutes. When he miraculously survived, his mother felt that he was destined to do ‘something’ with his life. At the Cannes Film Festival 2011 , the 10 year old boy Daniel Connors was embraced by press and audience after the World Premiere of TOOMELAH. As a first time actor, he was considered ‘a natural talent’ and his performance described as ‘outstanding’.



As a first time actor, Christopher Edwards plays the role of gang leader in the feature film TOOMELAH. “Acting felt very natural to me.” in response to the encouraging critics on his performance.

In the past Christopher was a dancer for the Redfern Dance Company and taught traditional dance and didgeridoo to Daniel Connors and other kids from the Toomelah mission.



Daniel Connors twin sister Danieka Connors, plays his girlfriend TANITIA. Tanitia steals the heart of tough boy Daniel in the film and her performance will have similar impact on the audience.



“I just couldn’t belief how real and how authentic the performances were…something I haven’t really come across before.” – Director Ivan Sen on the performance of Michael Connors and his son Daniel in the film TOOMELAH. Michael Connors got involved in TOOMELAH as the minder of his son Daniel, who plays the lead role. After a try-out for a small role, Sen instantly offered Michael a bigger part in the film.



Dean Daley-Jones performs the role of ex-crim Bruce and is the only cast member in TOOMELAH with previous experience as an actor. Dean was nominated for the Deadlys 2011 in the category ‘Best Actor of the Year’ for his lead role in the feature film Mad Bastards.



Ivan Sen was raised in Inverell, New South Wales, Australia. He graduated from Inverell High School in 1989 and then undertook a degree in photography at Griffith University in Queensland. He studied filmmaking at the Australian Film Television and Radio School, where he completed a Bachelor Arts in Directing in 1997.


Throughout the late 1990s Sen worked on numerous short films, before making his feature film debut with Beneath Clouds in 2002. The film follows two teenagers, Lena (Dannielle Hall) and Vaughn (Damian Pitt) who hitchhike together to Sydney, each for their own reasons. It won Sen global acclaim, screening at the 2003 Sundance Film Festival and winning the Premiere First Movie Award at the 2002 Berlin Film Festival and the 2002 Best Director Award at the Australian Film Institute Awards. Sen has subsquently 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.

Toomelah is selected for the Cannes International Film Festival 2011 – Un Certain Regard.


2008 Fire Talker The life and times of Charles Perkins – ABC.
2007 Embassy Days – ABC.
2006 A Sister’s Love – ABC.
2006 Broken Borders – ABC.
2006 Aunty Connie – ABC.
2005 Shifting Shelter 3 – ABC.
2005 Yellow Fella – SBS.
2003 Who was Evelyn Orcher? – ABC.
2002 The Dreamers – ABC.
2000 Shifting Shelter 2 – ABC.
1998 Vanish – ABC
1995 Shifting Shelter 1 – ABC.
2010 Toomelah – BUNYA Productions, Sydney.
2002 Beneath Clouds – Australian Film Finance Corporation, Axiom Films, SBS Independent, Dendy Films, NSW FTO.
1999 Dust – SBS Independent, NSW FTO.
1998 Wind – AFC, SBS Independent, ABC TV, NSW FTO.
1997 Journey – ABC, Festival of the Dreaming.
1996 Tears – AFC, SBS Independent, NSW FTO.
1995 Warm Strangers – AFTRS, ABC

Press Release

Official selection – Un Certain Regard 64th Cannes Film Festival

Official selection – In Competition 2011 Sydney Film Festival

Best Actor Nomination – Asia Pacific Screen Awards 2011 (Daniel Connors)

Toomelah Press Kit


‘Spellbound Cannes delights from a love letter from Australian heartland’ – SMH
The result certainly touched the audiences here on the other side of the world. At the press screening, the audience was held in spellbound silence; at the official screening, the film had a standing ovation… read more
‘Toomelah’ – FILMINK
With director Ivan Sen deftly finding the poetry and humour in this harsh setting, and driven by newcomer Daniel Connors’ riveting performance, this is affecting stuff… read more
‘Small town ragamuffins now feted by the world’ (+ video) – THE AGE
…more than 200 people were gathered in grandstands, cars and chairs from the local hall. They laughed uproariously every time someone from the community appeared on the screen and, as the credits rolled, beeped car horns and clapped as though the Tigers had won the grand final… read more
‘real life on the edge’ – REALTIMEARTS.NET
Ivan Sen has remarked that the film should ‘not be seen as political finger pointing’, and indeed it stands on its artistic merits… read more
‘Daniel’s time to shine’ – SYDNEY MORNING HERALD
Daniel Connors was a knockabout boy living in an Aboriginal settlement in far northern NSW – population 300 – when he was cast in the low-budget film Toomelah… read more
Cannes International Film Festival 'Official Selection' – Un Certain Regard May 2011 (Fra)
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Sydney Film Festival 'In Competition' June 2011 (Aus)
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July 2011 Melbourne International Film Festival (Aus)
Sept 2011 VIFF ‘Pacific Meridian’ – Vladivostok (Rus)
‘Pacific Meridian’ Grand Prix for Best Feature Film
Oct 2011 Festival des Antipodes – Saint Tropez (Fr)
‘Special Mention’ for performance of Daniel Connors
Oct 2011 Rio International Film Festival (Bra)
Nov 2011 Leeds International Film Festival (UK)
Nov 2011 Gijon International Film Festival (Sp)
Nov 2011 Asia Pacific Screen Awards
Daniel Connors – Nomination ‘Best Performance by an Actor’
Nov–Dec 2011 International Film Festival of India – Goa (India)
Jul 2013 Belize International Film Festival (Bz)


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