The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert (1994)
Released in 1994 and starring Hugo Weaving and Guy Pearce, The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert follows the hilarious and dramatic journey across the Australian Outback to Alice Springs.
The trans-Australian trek is undertaken by drag queens Mitzi Del Bra, Felicia Jollygoodfellow and their transgender accomplice Bernadette Bassenger to perform in Alice Springs.
Queen of the Desert, which was directed by Al Clark and won the Oscar for Best Costume Design, shows off haunting arid Territory landscapes and opened the eyes of even Australians to the majesty of The Red Centre. A musical stage version debuted in 2006.
The 2008 blockbuster Australia, written and directed by Australian Baz Luhrmann, tells the romantic story of Englishwoman, Sarah Ashley (Nicole Kidman), and Australian bushman, Drover (Hugh Jackman).
It was shot almost entirely in the Northern Territory – in fact, the movie cast was allowed to take over Stokes Hill Wharf and a slice of Darwin Harbour. There were many memorable off-camera scenes as Territorians gathered each day to watch the filming: Jackman strolling over to give an Indigenous woman a big hug and Kidman comfortable mixing with Territorians, signing autographs and answering questions. She even wrote an open letter to Territorians when filming finished to say how much she had enjoyed her time in Darwin.
Samson and Delilah (2009)
Samson and Delilah, starring first-time Territory actors Rowan McNamara and Marissa Gibson, follows the budding romance of two alienated Aboriginal teenagers.
The 2009 movie, which was directed by Alice Springs-born Kaytej man Warwick Thornton, was shot entirely in and around Alice Springs. The remote community where Samson and Delilah live is an abandoned Aboriginal community called Jay Creek, 45kms west of Alice Springs.
It’s an edgy film, portraying the drug addiction, abuse, neglect and complex politics of remote Indigenous communities.
Samson and Delilah was Thornton’s debut film. He says it’s an honest portrayal of the world he knows. “I set out just to make a really important film to my mob – a teenage love story and something really close to my heart.”
The film follows Samson, a petrol sniffing, deaf 14-year-old boy living in a run-down shack in an Aboriginal community. He's in love with Delilah, a young girl who lives with her elderly grandmother. After tragedy strikes, the youngsters flee their community and try to survive in the harsh outside world.
Sweet Country (2017)
The title of this period western, also directed by Warwick Thornton and set in 1929, is ironic. There's a smattering of bush humour, but the 2017 movie is a disturbing snapshot of the conflict between European settlers and Indigenous people in Central Australia.
It tells the story of Sam, an Aboriginal man working as a cattle hand who flees after killing a drunken, crazed white man in self-defence. Sam takes his wife with him as they're hunted through the bush by lawmen intent on hanging him for murder.
Sweet Country, which was co-written by Territory-born Stephen McGregor, was shot entirely in the Northern Territory. The scenery showcases the beautiful landscape of Central Australia, in particular Ooraminna Station, Simpsons Gap and Trephina Gorge.
The movie won a swag of awards, including the prestigious Australian Academy of Cinema and Television Arts Award for Best Original Screenplay, Best Cinematography and Best Cinematography.