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Review | David Gulpilil shares his glorious life in 'My Name Is Gulpilil'

My Name Is Gulpilil | Dir: Molly Reynolds | ★ ★ ★ ★ ½ 

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David Gulpilil is from Arnhem Land in the Northern Territory. Brought up with his culture and law and also educated at a mission school, his life has straddled both the tribal and the western worlds. Since Nicolas Roeg’s film Walkabout in 1971, Gulpilil has been an iconic figure in Australian cinema for the last fifty years.

Now nearing the end of his life, after being diagnosed with lung cancer, Gulpilil wants to tell his story as an actor, a dancer, a singer and a painter. What shines through in the film is his strong connection to the land as he revisits many of the locations from the films he took part in.

Gulpilil is the only actor to appear in both of the two highest-grossing Australian films of all time, Crocodile Dundee (1986) and Australia (2008). He is known throughout the world for his unforgettable performances and enigmatic screen presence to films including Storm Boy (1976), Mad Dog Morgan (1976), The Last Wave (1977), The Tracker (2002), Rabbit Proof Fence (2002), The Proposition (2005) and Charlie’s Country (2013).

Director Molly Reynolds reflects “It was David’s culture, his prowess as a hunter, painter, singer and dancer that gave him his screen allure and made him unique. With the erosion of deep culture in most Indigenous communities, however, the likes of Gulpilil will never exist again.”

Still charismatic, Gulpilil talks about his glorious life that mixed dining with the Queen and hunting goanna in Arnhem Land; being introduced to ‘ganja’ by Bob Marley and going to prison for vagrancy; winning Un Certain Regard at Cannes and not being able to sleep inside a house; doing his one-man show about his life and preparing his funeral.

At 6:30 pm on Wednesday 26 May, at Luna Leederville and Luna on SX, there will be a national Q&A following the screening of My Name is Gulpilil – connecting audiences all over Australia with people who have been part of his journey.

These include good friend and screen legend Jack Thompson, Artistic Director of Bangarra and longtime collaborator Stephen Page, founding member of Yothu Yindi Witiyana Marika (who is closely related to David) and Australia’s leading film critic and longtime friend Margaret Pomeranz and hosted by media personality, founding member of the acclaimed Marngrook Show and close kin of David, Yolngu woman Leila Gurruwiwi.

Lezly Herbert


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