Based on the stage musical of the same name by Jimmy Chi and the band Kuckles, Bran Nue Dae is set in 1969 and follows Willie, a young man who struggles to find a balance between the three things that drive his life: his love for his girl Rosie, his respect for his mother, and his religious faith. Willie's uncomplicated life of fishing and hanging out with his mates and his girl in the idyllic world of Broome is turned upside down when his mother returns him to the religious mission for further schooling and entry into the priesthood. After being punished for an act of youthful rebellion, he runs away from the mission on a journey that leads him to meet his 'Uncle Tadpole' and eventually return to Broome. Along the way, Willie and Uncle Tadpole meet a couple of hippies, spend the night in gaol, and meet a gun-toting roadhouse operator, while managing to stay one step ahead of Father Benedictus, who wants to bring Willie back to the mission.
Not all of the original songs from the 1990 stage musical appear in the film adaptation. For a complete listing of the original songs, see Bran Nue Dae: A Musical Journey published by Currency Press and Magabala Books (1991).
This article discusses the problems that Australian films face in the big distribution model, and ways that producers have rethought how their films are funded and distributed. To do this it uses the case study of Robert Connolly's Cinema Plus exhibition company. Although there is a historical precedence set for Connolly's self distribution venture, this shift to rethink how Australian films are being distributed and exhibited is certainly representative of a changing reassessment of the porous relationship between production and exhibition, which for some time Screen Australia demarcated in by two separate pools. What Cinema Plus represents is a recognition that conventional big distribution is not always the most effective way to reach the widest possible audience.