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The Black Balloon

Theatrical release poster
Directed by Elissa Down
Produced by Tristram Miall
Toni Collette
Written by Elissa Down
Jimmy Jack
Starring Rhys Wakefield
Luke Ford
Toni Collette
Erik Thomson
Gemma Ward
Music by Michael Yezerski
Cinematography Denson Baker
Editing by Veronika Jenet
Studio Icon Entertainment International
Distributed by NeoClassics Films
Release date(s) March 6, 2008 (AUS)
December 5, 2008 (USA)
Running time 97 min.
Country Australia
United Kingdom
Language English
Budget AUD5 million
Gross revenue $2,136,663

The Black Balloon is a 2008 Australian/British AFI award-winning drama-based feature film which stars Toni Collette, Rhys Wakefield, Luke Ford, Erik Thomson, Gemma Ward as well as a cast of newcomers. It is directed by first time feature film director, Elissa Down.[1]

The film was released in Australian cinemas March 6, 2008. The world premiere was at the Berlin International Film Festival in Germany in February 2008, where the film received a Crystal Bear as the best feature-length film in the Generation 14plus category.[2]



When Thomas (Rhys Wakefield) and his family move to a new home and he has to start at a new school, all he wants is to fit in.

When his pregnant mother (Toni Collette) has to take it easy, he is put in charge of his older brother, who has autism. Charlie (Luke Ford). Thomas with the help of his new girlfriend Jackie (Gemma Ward) faces his biggest challenge yet. Charlie’s unusual antics take Thomas on an emotional journey that cause his pent-up frustrations about his brother to pour out.



The Black Balloon received positive reviews. The first weekend of release, The Black Balloon was number 10 on the Australian box office with an intake of $500,010. Rotten Tomatoes reported that, based on 19 reviews 95% of them were positive. [3]


The Black Balloon won, on November 11, 2008, the Best Children’s Feature Film in the 2008 Asia Pacific Screen Awards. The award was accepted by Producer Tristram Miall and Director/Writer/Co-Producer Elissa Down.[4][5][6]

Since then The Black Balloon received numerous awards (and nominations) in Australia and at Film Festivals around the world:

  • Winner - Don Quijote Prize, Kristiansand International Children's Festival - Norway, 2008 [1]
  • Winner – Jury Grand Prix Prize (Bronze Gryphon), Arca Cinema Giovanni Award and Campania Regional Council Award, Giffoni Film Festival, Italy 2008 [2]
  • Winner - Best Direction in a Feature Film – Australian Directors Guild (ADG) Awards, Australia 2008 [3]
  • Winner- Best Original Screenplay – Australian Writers' Guild (AWGIE) Awards, 2008 [4]
  • Winner – Movie of the Year and Star of the Year (Gemma Ward) - Australian International Movie Convention's box office achievement awards - Australia 2008 [5]
  • Winner – RoC Gold Standard in Filmmaking – Hamptons International Film Festival, United States, 2008 [6]
  • Winner – Best Children's Feature – Asia Pacific Screen Awards, Australia 2008 [7]
  • Winner – Audience Award St Tropez Cinema des Antipodes, France 2008 [8]
  • Winner – Best Original Song ("When We Get There") and Best Soundtrack Album at Australian Screen Music Awards, Australia 2008 [9] [10]
  • Winner – Community Service Prize – ASPECT Art Awards, 2008
  • Winner – Best Script, Western Australia Premier's Book Awards, 2008 [11] [12]
  • Winner – Best Film, Best Direction, Best Script, Best Actress in a Supporting Role, Best Actor in a Supporting Role, Best Editing at the AFIs 2008
  • Winner - Best Australian Film, Australian Film Critics Association awards, 2008
  • Nominated – 10 Inside Film (IF) Awards including Best Film, Best Director, Best Script, Best Actor, Best Actress, Australia 2008 [13]
  • Nominated – 11 Australian Film Institute (AFI) Awards including Best Film, Best Director, Best Script, Best Lead Actor, Best Supporting Actor, Best Supporting Actress, Australia 2008 [14]
  • Nominated – Best Screenplay, New South Wales Premier's Awards, 2008 [15]

Filming locations

  • Holsworthy Public School, NSW
  • Bardia Parade, Holsworthy, NSW
  • University of Western Sydney Hawkesbury campus Swimming Pool, NSW
  • Granville Performance Hall, NSW


  1. "When We Get There" - Josh Pyke
  2. "Even" - Simon Day (Ratcat)
  3. "Heartbreak Hill" - Michael Yezerski
  4. "The Black Balloon Theme" - Michael Yezerski
  5. "Bath Time" / "Bullet Boy" - Michael Yezerski
  6. "In The Poo" / "The Bus" - Michael Yezerski
  7. "The Lolly" - Michael Yezerski
  8. "A New Game" / "Water Babies" - Michael Yezerski
  9. "Learning To Swim" - Michael Yezerski
  10. "The Kiss" - Michael Yezerski
  11. "The School Fight" - Michael Yezerski
  12. "Fall At Your Feet" - Glenn Richards (Augie March)
  13. "Aftermath" - Michael Yezerski
  14. "The Walk Home" - Michael Yezerski
  15. "The Greatest ACT In History" - David Campbell, Bert Labonte
  16. "Afloat! The Conga" - Claire McCarthy, Miriam Rihani, Afro Moses

"Fall at Your Feet" is a rendition of the Neil Finn (Crowded House) song. The soundtrack won 'Best Original Soundtrack' at the 2008 APRA-AGSC Screen Music Awards for Michael Yezerski[7], with Josh Pyke winning 'Best Original Song' for "When We Get There", which he co-wrote with Yezerski.[8] Songs also featuring in the film include "Better" by The Screaming Jets, "Don't Go Now" by Ratcat, "Streets of Your Town" by The Go Betweens, "Know You Know" by The Someloves and Jimmy Barnes' "Driving Wheels".

See also


External links



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