The West

Picture: Supplied.

An 11-year-old boy from the tiny Yiyili Aboriginal community, 170km from Fitzroy Crossing, has become a star after the premiere of WA film Satellite Boy at the Toronto International Film Festival.

Producer David Jowsey said the "incredibly poignant and moving" film left people in tears at screenings, including Saturday's premiere.

Cameron Wallaby plays Pete, who lives in an abandoned outdoor cinema in Wyndham with his grandfather Old Jagamarra - played by acclaimed Australian actor David Gulpilil.

When his home is threatened with demolition, Pete heads to the city with his best friend Kalmain to find the developers.

Jowsey said Wallaby was a "cute kid who just breaks your heart". The Hollywood Reporter said the film received loud applause and bravos.

It praised director Catriona McKenzie for eliciting from Wallaby a "breakthrough performance, fuelled by raw emotion and impish charm".

McKenzie and casting director Jub Clerc had found the first-time actor after an "epic road trip" to every remote community in the Kimberley.

For three months, the women and their children travelled thousands of kilometres, camping in swags, to audition hundreds of boys.

Clerc said as soon as they met Wallaby in Fitzroy Crossing, they knew they had Pete.

He impressed with his "wild imagination" at improvised auditions - because of remote children's literacy issues, he could not be asked to read from a script. Months later, they found Kalmain - 13-year-old Christ Church Grammar School student Joseph Pedley - in Wyndham.

Clerc said both actors had "twinkling eyes" and cheeky, gorgeous smiles.

"Cameron is an old soul, but he's a child and still enjoys the life of a kid growing up wild and free," Clerc said.

"He's also a rodeo bull rider - an actual little cowboy."

She described the film as a beautiful coming-of-age story shot in stunning Kimberley locations over six weeks. The cast and crew slept in tents.

On the red carpet in Toronto this week - his first trip overseas - Wallaby told reporters it was "exciting to see different actors and be in a big city".

Last night he was too tired for interviews, Jowsey said he was already tucked up in bed after a whirlwind of media calls with the international press pack that day.

The West Australian

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