The Sand That Ate The Sea

In the opal mining red dirt of Andamooka, South Australia; a son faces the memories of the mysterious disappearance of his father in a great flooding storm, while the same storm appears on his own horizon.

  • Matthew Thorne
    Alien: Covenant, True History Of The Kelly Gang, Snowtown
  • Matthew Thorne
    Alien: Covenant, True History Of The Kelly Gang, Snowtown
  • Matthew Thorne
  • Steven Garrett
  • Nicolai Lafayette
    Key Cast
  • Sebastian Quilliam
    Key Cast
    "Young James"
  • Patrick Graham
    Key Cast
  • Kate Rutherford
    Key Cast
  • Lara Lukich
    Key Cast
    "Woman in Pink"
  • Project Type:
  • Genres:
    Drama, Magical Realism, Outback, Rural
  • Runtime:
    29 minutes 44 seconds
  • Completion Date:
    September 3, 2019
  • Production Budget:
    45,000 AUD
  • Country of Origin:
  • Country of Filming:
  • Shooting Format:
  • Aspect Ratio:
  • Film Color:
  • First-time Filmmaker:
  • Student Project:
Director Biography - Matthew Thorne

Matthew Thorne was born in 1993 in Adelaide, South Australia. His work combines constructed narrative storytelling and observational documentary, often drawing from the landscape of Australia and its people, to create half-imagined/half-real mythic stories about community, land, spirituality, and work.

Matthew currently lives and works between Europe and Australia.


Recent work includes Marungka Tjalatjunu / Dipped in Black (2022) funded by the Adelaide Film Festival Investment Fund and the South Australian Film Corporation, The Sand That Ate The Sea (2020), and GAIB (2019). Photography for Nick Cave and the Badseed’s album Ghosteen (2019), photography on Justin Kurzel’s film True History of The Kelly Gang, Jingo Was Born In The Slum (2019), and photography and additional direction on Ridley Scott’s Alien: Covenant (2017).

Matthew has published two books; Jingo Was Born In The Slum (2021) and For My Father (2018). His photos also accompany the Spanish language translation of Kenneth Cook’s iconic Australian novel Wake In Fright by Sajalín editores (2021).

Matthew’s work has been exhibited at the National Portrait Gallery of Australia (2021), National Portrait Gallery London (2020), National Museum of Australia (2020), Art Gallery of South Australia (2020), National Library of Australia (2019), Perth Centre for Photography (2019), and the Melbourne Centre for Contemporary Photography (2018/19/20/21/22).

His work has also been selected for the Australian Directors Guild Awards (2021), Perth International Film Festival (2020), Australian National Portrait Prize (2021), and the Taylor Wessing Portrait Prize, UK (2020).

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Director Statement

'The Sand That Ate The Sea’ documents the land of my childhood - and of my family - the South Australian red desert and particularly the Opal mining town, Andamooka. It was undertaken over 4 years and is presented in multiple formats; narrative film, music video, photography, and installation.

The South Australian desert is a mystical place - millennia ago it was an ocean, and opalised aquatic dinosaur fossils are still found in the dirt there today. It is home to an arid land and deep, old magic. It is a place of endless sweeping salt flats and undulating flat red earth.

This is where the frontier is, and the last of the great Australian frontiersmen call it home. The land is a stolen land, and a cursed land - and the magic of that wound has a unique way of working on the people that are born there new, and those who came before.