After directing a number of major motion pictures in the United States, Australian-born filmmaker Phillip Noyce returned home to make this remarkable adventure-drama, based on a true story as well as a lamentable period in his nation's history. When European settlers first arrived in Australia, there was an almost immediate conflict between the recent arrivals and the nation's indigenous people, whose rich cultural heritage which bore little resemblance to that of the Europeans. By the mid-19th century, when white settlers had gained political control of the continent, many aborigines found themselves removed from their lands and their children taken from them, under the belief that the youngsters would be better off in a more "civilized" environment. Through most of the 20th century, it was official government policy that half- or quarter-caste indigenous children were to be taken from their families and raised as "white" children in orphanages, where they would be trained to work as domestic servants or laborers. In 1931, Molly (Everlyn Sampi) and her younger sister Daisy (Tianna Sansbury) and cousin Gracie (Laura Monaghan) were three half-caste children from Western Australia who were taken from their parents under government edict and sent to an institution, where they were subject to physical and emotional abuse as they were taught to forget their families, their culture, and their lives up to that point and re-invent themselves as members of "white" Australian society. Gracie and Daisy cling to Molly for support, and Molly decides they need to return to their parents. Molly plans a daring escape, and the three girls begin an epic journey back to Western Australia, travelling 1,500 miles on foot with no food or water, and navigating by following the fence that has been build across the nation to stem an over-population of rabbits. A.O. Neville (Kenneth Branagh), the government functionary in charge of relocating Western Australia's aborigines, takes a special interest in the case of the three girls, and brings in a veteran tracker, Moodoo (David Gulpilil) to help find them, secure in the belief he's acting in their best interest. Rabbit-Proof Fence was based on the acclaimed book by Doris Pilkington Garimara, whose Aunt Daisy was one of the three children who made the extraordinary journey and helped her with the research for the book.
by Mark Deming synopsis