charlie's country6.30pm, Tuesday 12 May 2015

Byron Theatre, Byron Community Centre, 69 Jonson Street, Byron Bay NSW 2481 (02) 6685 6807

Tickets: $25 or $18 (Concession / Screenworks Members)

Screening of Charlie’s Country.

Followed by Director Rolf De Heer in conversation with Rhoda Roberts and audience Q & A.

Starring David Gulpilil, Winner Best Actor, Un Certain Regard Cannes Film Festival 2014


Multi award winning, internationally acclaimed Australian Filmmaker Rolf de Heer will be the special guest speaker at a Screenworks event at the Byron Bay Community Centre on May 12 when he joins Indigenous journalist and arts professional Rhoda Roberts in conversation after  a screening of his most recent film Charlie’s Country.

Rolf de Heer has been making remarkable feature films for thirty years changing the landscape of Australian filmmaking through films such as Bad Boy Bubby, The Tracker and Ten Canoes. Screenworks is thrilled to be bringing one of Australia’s finest filmmakers to the region to talk about his craft and the themes and sensibilities in his work.

Typically Rolf de Heer’s films explore the human condition and question conventional wisdom. They are low in budget but high in impact; and his fourteenth feature film is no exception. Blackfella Charlie is getting older, and he’s out of sorts. The intervention is making life more difficult on his remote community, what with the proper policing of ‘whitefella’ laws that make little sense, and Charlie’s kin and ken more interested in going along with things than doing anything about it. So Charlie takes off, to live the old way, but in so doing sets off a chain of events in his life that has him return to his community chastened, and somewhat the wiser.

Brilliant Indigenous actor David Gulpilil stars in, and co-wrote this highly topical and semi-autobiographical drama with Rolf De Heer, their third collaboration after The Tracker and Ten Canoes. Over the course of his career David has brought tremendous dignity to the depiction of what it is to be Aboriginal, through his performances in Walkabout, Rabbit Proof Fence, The Tracker, Australia and many other films. De Heer will share insights into his creative process working with Gulpilil.

The film is powerfully moving not least because there are many parrallels between the life of Gulpilil and the character Charlie. Gulpilil was also a gifted dancer and was for a time one of the most renowned traditional dancers in Australia; and he, like Charlie has struggled to reconcile the two cultures he lives within.

“Equal parts ethnographic and poetic, this eloquent drama’s stirring soulfulness is laced with the sorrow of cultural dislocation but also with lovely ripples of humor and even joy…While the story is fictionalized and its dialogue improvised (in English and the Yolngu language of the setting), its parallels to Gulpilil’s recent past make it alive with authenticity. It’s a testament to what de Heer and Gulpilil have achieved here — with simplicity and infinite nuance — that through all the highs and devastating lows we witness in this brief chapter of Charlie’s life, the character’s identity remains etched into every aspect of the performance. His sense of himself and where he comes from is the one thing he never loses, which is what gives this melancholy story its haunting beauty.”

David Rooney,  Cannes Review 

Charlie’s Country premiered in May 2014 in Official Selection at the Cannes Film Festival in Un Certain Regard, which focuses on works with an original aim and aesthetic. The film played to full houses, standing ovations and wonderful reviews, and won the Best Actor in Un Certain Regard for David Gulpilil.

“The third film collaboration between Rolf de Heer and David Gulpilil is a majestic work, destined to be thought of in years to come as a gift to the nation.”

Paul Byrnes, SMH

Screen NSW LogoThis screening event is supported by Screen Audience Development funding from Screen NSW.

Biographies: Rolf de Heer, Director/Writer Rolf has directed (and often written and produced) fourteen feature films of many different genres, starting with Tail of a Tiger in 1984. Born in 1951 in Holland, Rolf migrated to Australia with his family in 1959. He is a classically educated writer having studied French, Latin, German, English and Philosophy. He worked at the Australian Broadcasting Corporation for seven years, then in 1977 was granted entry into Australia’s Film Television and Radio School.

He has gone on to make many films, generally low budget, and has gained substantial international recognition. Bad Boy Bubby won the Grand Special Jury prize and the International Film Critics Prize at Venice in 1993, and four Australian Film Institute awards in Australia. The Quiet Room (1996) and Dance Me To My Song (1998) were invited into Competition at Cannes. The Tracker premiered to critical acclaim in Competition at Venice in 2002. Alexandra’s Project was invited into Competition at Berlin, 2003, while Ten Canoes won the Special Jury Prize in the Un Certain Regard section at Cannes in 2007 and six Australian Film Institute Awards including Best Film. In 2014 Charlie’s Country premiered at the Cannes Film Festival in Un Certain Regard where David Gulpilil won Best Actor.

David Gulpilil, OAM, as Charlie David Gulpilil first lit up the cinema screen in Nicholas Roeg’s Walkabout. His performance was so strong, and imbued with a new type of graceful naturalism, that it re-defined perceptions of Aboriginality, especially in the field of screen acting. Over the next decade, Gulpilil became the iconic Aboriginal actor of his generation, paving the way in the resurgence of the Australian film industry for more parts to be written for Aboriginal people, for more Aboriginal stories to be told. His charismatic, engaging and unforgettable performances in films like Storm Boy, The Last Wave and Crocodile Dundee helped bring Aboriginality into the mainstream of the screen arts. In his later work, including Rabbit-Proof Fence, The Tracker, Australia and Satellite Boy, he has continued to bring gravitas and playfulness to his performances.

Not just a screen actor, Gulpilil was an accomplished dancer, and has written the text for two volumes of children’s stories based on his people’s beliefs. He has performed a one-man autobiographical show to great acclaim on the stages of the Adelaide Festival of Arts and Sydney’s Belvoir Street Theatre. He also paints artworks that convey his reverence for the landscape, people and traditional culture of his homeland.

Rhoda Roberts Rhoda Roberts is an Australian journalist, broadcaster, actor, producer, director, writer, arts advisor, and artistic director. She is a significant force on the Australian arts scene. Rhoda has written, produced and directed some of Australia’s most important public productions including the Artistic Director  Dreaming Festival (1995 – 2009) and was Indigenous Cultural Advisor for the Olympic Games in Sydney (2000). She is currently Head of Indigenous Programming at the Sydney Opera House, and is involved in festivals and events across Australia. Rhoda is a member of the Bundjalung Nation, Wiyebal Clan, of Northern NSW.

Watch the Charlie’s Country Trailer


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