Open main menu

The Fringe Dwellers

The Fringe Dwellers is a 1986 film directed by Bruce Beresford, based on the 1961 novel The Fringe Dwellers by Western Australian author Nene Gare.[2] The film is about a young Aboriginal girl who dreams of life beyond the family camp that sits on the fringe of white society (the term fringe dwellers having specific application in Australia).

The Fringe Dwellers
Directed byBruce Beresford
Produced bySue Milliken
Written byBruce Beresford
Rhoisin Beresford
StarringKristina Nehm
Justine Saunders
Kylie Belling
Music byGeorge Dreyfus
CinematographyDonald McAlpine
Edited byTim Wellburn
Release date
October 1986
Running time
98 minutes
BudgetA$1.26 million[1]
Box office$174,433 (Australia)

The film is acclaimed as being the first Australian film featuring Indigenous actors in all the major roles.[citation needed] It achieved critical and international success when it was released in 1986, but gained only a lukewarm reception in Australia.[3]


  • Justine Saunders as Mollie Comeaway
  • Kristina Nehm as Trilby Comeaway
  • Kylie Belling as Noonah Comeaway
  • Bob Maza as Joe Comeaway
  • Denis Walker as Bartie Comeaway
  • Ernie Dingo as Phil
  • Marlene Bell as Hannah
  • Malcolm Silva as Charlie
  • Michele Miles as Blanchie
  • Michelle Torres as Audrena
  • Lisa-Jane Stockwell as Matron
  • Gordon Beitzel as the Publican


Beresford had been interested in making a film from the novel since he read it in the mid 1970s, buying his copy at a second-hand book shop in London. Funding was difficult to raise but eventually was done through the Australian Film Commission and Queensland Film Corporation.[4]


The film was nominated for seven AFI Awards and won for the Best Adapted Screenplay (Bruce Beresford, Rhoisin Beresford). It was also entered into the 1986 Cannes Film Festival.[5] Some Aboriginal activists walked out of the screening at Cannes.[4]

Box officeEdit

The Fringe Dwellers grossed $174,433 at the box office in Australia.[6]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ Geoff Gardner, "The Fringe Dwellers", Australian Film 1978-1992, Oxford Uni Press, 1993 p197
  2. ^ Nene Gare, The Fringe Dwellers, Sun Books, Melbourne, 1966 (first published by Heinemann, London, 1961).
  3. ^ Australianscreen - info
  4. ^ a b David Stratton, The Avocado Plantation: Boom and Bust in the Australian Film Industry, Pan MacMillan, 1990 p202-204
  5. ^ "Festival de Cannes: The Fringe Dwellers". Retrieved 11 July 2009.
  6. ^ Film Victoria - Australian Films at the Australian Box Office

Further readingEdit

  • Murray, Scott, ed. (1994). Australian Cinema. St.Leonards, NSW.: Allen & Unwin/AFC. p. 252. ISBN 1-86373-311-6.

External linksEdit