Satellite Boy

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Short takes

Not suitable under 5 (Scary scenes); not recommended 5-10; PG 10-14 (Themes)

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This topic contains:

  • overall comments and recommendations
  • details of classification and consumer advice lines for Satellite Boy
  • a review of Satellite Boy completed by the Australian Council on Children and the Media (ACCM) on 24 June 2013.

Overall comments and recommendations

Children under 5 Not suitable due to themes and scary scenes
Children 5 - 10 Not recommended due to themes
Children 10-14 Parental guidance recommenced due to themes
Children 14 and over OK for this age group

About the movie

This section contains details about the movie, including its classification by the Australian Government Classification Board and the associated consumer advice lines. Other classification advice (OC) is provided where the Australian film classification is not available.

Name of movie: Satellite Boy
Classification: PG
Consumer advice lines: Mild themes and coarse language
Length: 86 minutes

ACCM review

This review of the movie contains the following information:

A synopsis of the story

Satellite Boy tells the story of a twelve-year old Aboriginal boy named Pete (Cameron Wallaby), who lives in an abandoned outdoor cinema with his grandfather Jagamarra (David Gulpilil) in Kimberley. Although his grandfather lives by the traditional ways, Pete dreams of his mother returning from her hospitality course in the city and of them opening a restaurant together.

When a construction company informs them that they must vacate the cinema because the site will be used to build storage containers, Pete decides to travel into the city to plead their case. He takes his best friend Kalmain (Joseph Pedley) along for company.

Over the course of their journey, the boys are forced to live off the land in order to survive. Despite running out of food and water, taking many wrong turns, and needing to evade the police, the boys make it into the city where more adventures and challenges are waiting.


Children and adolescents may react adversely at different ages to themes of crime, suicide, drug and alcohol dependence, death, serious illness, family breakdown, death or separation from a parent, animal distress or cruelty to animals, children as victims, natural disasters and racism. Occasionally reviews may also signal themes that some parents may simply wish to know about.

Friendship; independence; freedom versus duty; culture and tradition

Use of violenceinfo

Research shows that children are at risk of learning that violence is an acceptable means of conflict resolution when violence is glamourised, performed by an attractive hero, successful, has few real life consequences, is set in a comic context and / or is mostly perpetrated by male characters with female victims, or by one race against another.

Repeated exposure to violent content can reinforce the message that violence is an acceptable means of conflict resolution. Repeated exposure also increases the risks that children will become desensitised to the use of violence in real life or develop an exaggerated view about the prevalence and likelihood of violence in their own world.

  • Early on in the film, the two boys come across some fuel in an abandoned shed. They fill up some bottles, with a rag hanging out that they set alight. The boys proceed to throw the Molotov cocktails into a wrecked truck nearby, and watch as it catches fire and explodes into flames.
  • In an effort to distract some construction workers and allow Pete to find the manager of the company, Kalmain pulls a gun out and threatens to shoot if the men come any closer. Pete comes back and struggles to get the gun out of his friend’s hand, and one shot goes off in the air.

Material that may scare or disturb children

Under fiveinfo

Children under five are most likely to be frightened by scary visual images, such as monsters, physical transformations.

Children in this age group are likely to be scared by the above-mentioned scenes.

Aged five to eightinfo

Children aged five to eight will also be frightened by scary visual images and will also be disturbed by depictions of the death of a parent, a child abandoned or separated from parents, children or animals being hurt or threatened and / or natural disasters.

In addition to the above-mentioned violent scenes there are some scenes in this movie that might disturb children aged five to eight, including the following:

  • It is clear to viewers that Kalmain has a very strained relationship with his mother. When Kalmain comes home one day she looks at him with disdain and disappointment, merely asking whether he brought her some cigarettes, then leaving.
  • Although Pete’s mother has gone away to the city to study a hospitality course, both his grandfather and friend believe she has abandoned Pete for good, and continually try to tell him that she will not return. The thought upsets Pete too much, and he refuses to listen to either of them.

Aged eight to thirteeninfo

Children aged eight to thirteen are most likely to be frightened by realistic threats and dangers, violence or threat of violence and / or stories in which children are hurt or threatened.

Children in this age group may also be disturbed by the above mentioned scenes

Thirteen and overinfo

Children over the age of thirteen are most likely to be frightened by realistic physical harm or threats, molestation or sexual assault and / or threats from aliens or the occult.

Nothing of concern

Product placement

None of concern

Sexual references

None of concern

Nudity and sexual activity

None of concern

Use of substances

None of concern

Coarse language

There is some coarse language in this movie, including:

  • “bullshit”; “nuisance pisshead”

In a nutshell

Satellite Boy is a heart-warming tale of one boy’s determination to protect the place he calls his home. Over the course of the film, Pete realises that his cultural roots mean far more to him than he ever imagined. He learns the value of the survival skills his grandfather taught him, and that the appeal of the city is somewhat transient. While the film touches on some of the darker issues affecting indigenous youth, the uplifting ending – with Pete fully embracing his cultural heritage – demonstrates the growth and transformation that people are capable of undergoing.

The film shows the consequences of running away from home and gives a clear message that violence is almost never a good solution and sometimes makes matters worse.

Younger children may find some of the scenes and the family relationships of the two young boys disturbing, but there is much of interest to discuss with older children.