”I’m not black, I’m not white, I’m a yellow fella and I’m gonna stay that way”.
In 1978, Tom Lewis appeared in the Australian feature film, The Chant of Jimmie Blacksmith. The life of the character he played was hauntingly close to his own, a young, restless man of mixed heritage, struggling for a foothold on the edge of two cultures. Tom’s mother is a traditional Indigenous woman of southern Arnhem Land, his father a Welsh stockman who he never really knew.
Yellow Fella is a journey across the land and into Tom’s past, as he attempts to find the resting place of his father and to finally confront the truth of his most inner feelings of love and identity.
Gamilaroi native Ivan Sen made the first film in 1995 when he was still at film school. His four subjects were all 15 and they talked about their dreams and ambitions – to travel the world and go to university, to be rock stars and artists.
In a career spanning a decade, Ivan Sen has carved a reputation as a chronicler of Indigenous youth, beginning with his short dramas Tears (1998) and Dust (1999), and his debut feature Beneath Clouds (2001). Since then, Sen has made a raft of documentaries that continue to explore the themes of his earlier work. From the buried skeletons of massacre victims in Dust, to Tom E. Lewis' incomplete family history in Yellow Fella (2005), the past is always close to the surface in Sen's oeuvre.