Detective Travis Hurley arrives in a small town in the Australian outback. The Hotel Limbo, which resembles a rocky grotto, proves to be perfect for his very own particular type of relaxation. But he has come here to investigate a case from 20 years ago for which the only evidence is a number of tape recordings: the unsolved murder of an Aboriginal girl named Charlotte Hayes. The residents are less than forthcoming regarding the provision of information; this is especially true of the victim’s fractured family. You do not talk to a cop, especially if he is white. But Hurley, in a stoic performance by Simon Baker, knows how to wend his way in his cool car through the labyrinthine landscape of the Opal Mountains and form a bond with the cave and caravan dwellers.
Indigenous Australian film director Ivan Sen is renowned for his depiction of magnificent screen landscapes. In Limbo, he juxtaposes the low sky with the mounds above and holes below ground around the opal-mining capital of Coober Pedy. The result is a serene “desert noir” that is as convincing as a detective story as it is a subtle portrait of the First Nation’s deep-seated experiences of everyday racism. A genre film suffused with bleak nostalgia.
by Ivan Sen
with Simon Baker, Rob Collins, Natasha Wanganeen, Nicholas Hope, Mark Coe, Joshua Warrior
Australia 2023 English 108’ Black/White World premiere


  • Simon Baker (Travis Hurley)
  • Rob Collins (Charlie)
  • Natasha Wanganeen (Emma)
  • Nicholas Hope (Joseph)
  • Mark Coe (Zac)
  • Joshua Warrior (Oscar)


Director Ivan Sen
Screenplay Ivan Sen
Cinematography Ivan Sen
Editing Ivan Sen
Music Ivan Sen
Sound Design Thom Kellar
Sound Nick Rowan
Art Director Adam Head
Costumes Theodore Benton
Make-Up Toni Ffrench
Assistant Director Richard McGrath
Casting Ivan Sen
Producers David Jowsey, Rachel Higgins, Greer Simpkin, Ivan Sen
Executive Producers Simon Baker, Cecilia Ritchie, David Chiem

Ivan Sen

The director made his feature film debut with Beneath Clouds which screened in the 2002 Berlinale Competition where it won the Premiere First Movie Award. In the same year, he was recognised as Best Director at the Australian Film Institute Awards. Since then, he has made a number of documentaries including Yellow Fella which premiered at Cannes in 2005. He returned to Cannes in 2011 with his feature film Toomelah. In 2012, he won the Byron Kennedy Award. His series Mystery Road, based on his feature film of the same name, was presented in the 2020 Berlinale Series.


1995 Warm Strangers; short film · Shifting Shelter 1; TV documentary 1996 Tears; short film 1997 Journey; short film 1998 Wind; short film · Vanish; TV documentary 1999 Dust; short film 2000 Shifting Shelter 2; TV documentary 2002 The Dreamers; TV documentary · Beneath Clouds 2005 Shifting Shelter 3; TV documentary 2003 Who Was Evelyn Orcher?; TV documentary 2005 Yellow Fella; TV documentary 2006 Aunty Connis; TV documentary · A Sister’s Love; TV documentary 2007 Embassy Days; TV documentary 2008 Firetalker – Life and Times of Charles Perkins; TV documentary 2010 Dreamland · Shifting Shelter 4; TV documentary 2011 Toomelah 2013 Mystery Road 2016 Goldstone 2019 Loveland 2023 Limbo

Bio- & filmography as of Berlinale 2023